Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 2, 2017
Early on, students in composition classes learn about a literary technique called “the back story.” The concept isn’t new. Aristotle explained to his students in ancient Greece that when telling a story, it is good to include the significant facts and details that lead up to the main story. “The back story” helps to make the main story more credible. Recently, this tool of storytellers seems to have been borrowed by journalists who promise a convincing “back story” that will remove any suspicion that their main story is fake news.
The Good News for this 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Independence Day Weekend) seems to beg for “the back story.” The opening line leaves us asking ourselves: WHAT?
It certainly isn’t as if we don’t already know the “back story” to this Gospel. Every time we profess our faith through the Creed, we state a significant fact….a critical detail…that enables a deeper understanding of the “main story” of salvation…the Gospel. We say:
I believe in God….Creator of heaven and earth.
While creatures ourselves, humankind is unique within the created realm because we alone are able to know and love God. This is possible because God, The Source of all life and love, called us into existence as both earthly as well as spiritual beings. The problem is that, many times, we are so rooted in our earthly selves through relationships with others, attachment to material goods, pride in our accomplishments, and ambition for even more…and more and more…that the main story becomes all about the things of this world, and the back story of who we truly are and what we were created to be becomes more and more distant. As we lose touch with our spiritual side, we also lose touch with God. That might well be what Jesus is telling us when He says: Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.
Jesus is calling us to restore God to the Creator’s rightful place in our lives. Essentially, what we have here is a challenge to move God from the back and place Him first in all things. Moreover, The Lord offers assurance of great rewards for those who declare their independence from the earthly attachments which can enslave us, and pledge our total dependence on our Creator, Whose will it is that we live for all eternity in the freedom of The Holy Spirit.
The American theologian, Monika Hellwig, when commenting on these Readings, concluded with this thought: When we think what is asked of us is sheer death, we may find that it is a breakthrough to new life!
There is nothing fake about this news…It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ!