Thirteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time – Year A
July 02, 2023 – 10:30 AM
Saint Cecilia Catholic Community
Deacon Sharon Kay Talley
II Kings 4:8-11;14-16A | Psalm 98:2-3;16-19
Romans: 6:3-4;8-11 | Matthew 10:37-42


+In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, AMEN.

It is with great reverence and elation that we experience the presence of Jesus in others.  Personally, I love it when I see the Holy Spirit acting in others to help humanity.

Ryan Holets is such a person.  As an Albuquerque police officer, he adopted a homeless woman’s heroin-addicted baby.

Officer Ryan Holets was on patrol when a call came in about a possible convenience store robbery.  But as it turned out, God didn’t call him there about a theft.  He brought Ryan there to save a baby girl who hadn’t even been born yet!

As Ryan was leaving the convenience store, he spotted a couple out of the corner of his eye.  They were sitting on the ground with their backs against the store’s cement wall.  But Ryan couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw what they were doing.  Right there, in broad daylight, the pair was shooting up heroin!

Ryan turned on his body camera and was confronted by the couple.  But he was in for another shock—the woman was pregnant!

“It’s not every day that I see a sight like that and it just made me really sad,”  he said.

The mom-to-be was 35-year-old Crystal Champ.  She had been battling a heroin and meth addiction since her teenage years, but couldn’t seem to break free.  Crystal tearfully told Ryan how she desperately wanted someone to adopt her baby.  Crystal’s heartfelt desire to find a good home for her unborn child hit Ryan hard.  So instead of arresting the couple, Ryan showed them pictures of his wife and children.  Next, he offered to take Crystal’s baby girl once she was born.

Ryan also helped them both get into treatment programs for their addictions.

By engaging with Crystal and her boyfriend in such a way, Ryan was acting like Jesus.  Just as the kindness to Elisha by the Shunemite woman in our first reading from Kings, Ryan gives us an example of how Jesus wants us to treat one another.

In our second reading from Romans, Paul reminds us that we became joined with Jesus through our baptism.  Today, Shannon has chosen to become a part of Jesus.  Once baptized, she will become a different person since sin will no longer empower her.  She will do more things like the Shunemite woman in our first reading and Ryan, the policeman, in our story.

We all have been given the grace and duty to love and serve Jesus.  Let us give thanks to God for this precious gift of God’s grace in our lives.  Let us follow Jesus by welcoming the stranger, feeding the hungry, helping the poor and needy, and being kind, loving, and hospitable to all of God’s children.

Some of the most influential people in history were like Jesus, who championed the rights of others.  More of my favorites include:

James Earl Carter, also known as Jimmy Carter is an American Diplomat and former President of the United States.  During his presidency, Carter pardoned all Vietnam War draft evaders and created the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S.  Department of Energy.  In 1982, he founded the Carter Center, a non-governmental and non-profit organization with the purpose of advancing human rights and alleviating human suffering, including helping improve the quality of life for people in more than 80 countries.

Harriett Tubman was an American abolitionist and social activist.  After escaping slavery, she made 13 missions to rescue approximately 70 enslaved people using the network of antislavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad.  In her later years, she became an activist in the movement for women’s suffrage.

Benjamin Franklin was an American scientist, statesman, diplomat, inventor, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.  At the age of 17, he ran away from his home in Boston to start anew in Philadelphia.  He worked as a typesetter in a printing shop and formed the Junto, a group of artisans who hoped to improve the community.  He invented the Franklin Stove, the harmonica of glass, a harp musical instrument, bifocals, and the lightning rod.  He was also famous for his adages or aphorisms such as “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”.  My favorite one is “wine is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”

Malala Yousafzai was born in Pakistan and wanted the same education provided to her male peers.  Her father ran a girls’ school in the village where they lived, but when the Taliban moved in, they ordered the school to be closed.  But Malala continued to pursue her education and in 2012, she was shot by a Taliban gunman.  Today, she lives with her family in the United Kingdom and has founded the Malala Fund to give girls everywhere in the world a chance at a good future through education.  She received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.

Anne Frank was a German-born Jewish girl who kept a diary in which she documented life in hiding under Nazi persecution.  She remains one of the most-discussed Jewish victims of the Holocaust and gained fame posthumously with the publication of her diary in 1947. She died at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1944 at the age of 14.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was one of the greatest composers of all time.  He was raised a Catholic and remained a devout member of the Church throughout his short life of only 35 years.  During his lifetime, Mozart composed more than 60 pieces of sacred music including Ave Verum Corpus, Sancta Maria, Vini Sancta Spiritus, and Requiem.  He is my favorite composer.

Florence Nightingale was an English social reformer and the founder of modern nursing.  She significantly reduced death rates by improving hygiene and living standards.  While in her 20s, Florence underwent experiences that she believed were calls from God, prompting her to devote her life to the service of others.

All of these people have had a positive effect on millions of lives just as Jesus has.

In our Gospel today, Jesus advises us that if we choose our earthly life over choosing to follow Him, we will lose our souls for eternity.  Those who choose to follow Jesus will have eternal life.

Jesus wants total commitment from anyone who is His disciple.  Those who put their family before Jesus cannot be His disciples.

Jesus even warns His disciples that following Him can cause conflict with our friends and family.  His message of “whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me.”  But this is not heeded often in our modern culture.  Many people are more concerned with their own achievement, self-enrichment, power, or fame.  In fact, many Catholics believe that after baptism, they are “done” and skip going to church and receiving the Holy Sacrament because Sunday has now become “Funday”.

The ultimate reward for our total commitment to Jesus is that we will spend eternity in God’s Kingdom with Him.  Jesus wants us to follow Him because He loves us and if we truly love Him,. This is our goal.

In the scale of our relationships, Jesus is first.  Not even the closest of family: husband, wife, son, or daughter is more important than our relationship with Jesus.  And Jesus accepts nothing less than our total commitment.  Jesus promised rewards to those who give as little as a drink of water to those in need.

Jesus teaches us not to love money and to be content with what we have.  But he also wants us to take care of our families and our church.  God asks that you give generously to both.

So please give in a meaningful way to help support our mission of spreading God’s Word and helping St. Cecilia’s.  You can give online at St. Cecilia Catholic Community dot org or you can send a check to St. Cecilia’s at 555 N. Commercial Road, Suite 1, Palm Springs, CA 92262, or you can send payment through Zelle by contacting Fr. David at 760-778-8950.

Let us all take the time to re-examine our Christian commitment.  We can begin by asking ourselves:  “What is my obligation to attend Sunday Mass and receive the Holy Sacrament in person?”

In order to live our lives fully with the pre-eminence of Jesus, nothing on earth should be more important to us than Jesus.  AMEN