The following is a reflection written by Sister Janet M. Peterworth, OSU, for Sunday, July 2, 2023:
68 years ago today, I was a bride. I wore a beautiful bridal dress with a long, flowing lacy veil. I was so nervous about what this was all going to mean for my future, but I walked up that aisle with my head held high. However, underneath all that bridal attire I wore the strangest underwear I had ever seen, black cotton stockings and outdated black oxfords. For you see, in less than a half hour, I would exchange that beautiful bridal gown for a black serge habit and the flowing white veil of a bride for the straight white veil of an Ursuline novice. And, in case you are wondering, I would do it all over again.
I am sure I was not very familiar with today’s Gospel in 1955, but somehow, I did know in my heart that I was willing to accept the challenge that it holds for all of us—that ever-present call to discipleship. There is a book you may know: “Women Who Run With the Wolves.” Well, I read a book way back in 1955 by Fr. Raymond, OCSO, called “Running Off With God.” Very different books, but I saw myself as joining with women who run with God.
Of course, discipleship is not just for those women, discipleship is for all women and all men…basically all people…everywhere. Today’s Gospel helps us understand that universal call to holiness—to discipleship. And what does that call entail? Let’s go back and review todays readings:
- Make your first relational priority God—however you name God.
- Bury your ego…in other words, die with Christ so you can live with Christ.
- Take up whatever cross comes your way.
- Receive prophets who might speak an uncomfortable or surprising message.
- Give the thirsty a cup of cold water.
- Open your house to a migrating person or family and even be sure you put a small table in the room, and, oh yes, a lamp as well.
- Always sing the goodness of our God.
- Be doubly sure your mouth sings God’s praise, and
- Think of yourself as dead to sin so you can be alive to God.
And there you have it, the blueprint for the universal call to discipleship—the universal call to holiness. A map for all people who want to go on the journey of discipleship. A map for people who want to go running off with God.
And, by the way it doesn’t matter what kind of underwear you have on. Or if you have on any at all.
One day Elisha came to Shunem,
where there was a woman of influence, who urged him to dine with her.
Afterward, whenever he passed by, he used to stop there to dine.
So she said to her husband, “I know that Elisha is a holy man of God.
Since he visits us often, let us arrange a little room on the roof
and furnish it for him with a bed, table, chair, and lamp,
so that when he comes to us he can stay there.”
Sometime later Elisha arrived and stayed in the room overnight.
Later Elisha asked, “Can something be done for her?”
His servant Gehazi answered, “Yes!
She has no son, and her husband is getting on in years.”
Elisha said, “Call her.”
When the woman had been called and stood at the door,
Elisha promised, “This time next year
you will be fondling a baby son.”
Brothers and sisters:
Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus
were baptized into his death?
We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death,
so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead
by the glory of the Father,
we too might live in newness of life.
If, then, we have died with Christ,
we believe that we shall also live with him.
We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more;
death no longer has power over him.
As to his death, he died to sin once and for all;
as to his life, he lives for God.
Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as dead to sin
and living for God in Christ Jesus.
Jesus said to his apostles:
“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me,
and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;
and whoever does not take up his cross
and follow after me is not worthy of me.
Whoever finds his life will lose it,
and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
“Whoever receives you receives me,
and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.
Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet
will receive a prophet’s reward,
and whoever receives a righteous man
because he is a righteous man
will receive a righteous man’s reward.
And whoever gives only a cup of cold water
to one of these little ones to drink
because the little one is a disciple—
amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.”
Artwork: “Patience” by Jen Norton, used with permission.