Sunday Sermon for July 2, 2023, the Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Readings: 2 Kgs 4:8-11, 14-16a; Rom 6:3-4, 8-11; Mt 10:37-42

In the second reading today, St. Paul reminds us that when we were baptized, we were baptized into Christ Jesus.  Remember, Jesus is the Christ because of the Paschal mystery, that is, the Passion, death, Resurrection, and Ascension.  Of course, He was always the Christ, but His work as the Christ took place only at the end of His earthly life.  In being baptized into Jesus, we are baptized into the fullness of His Person.  This is why St. Paul tells us that we are baptized into His death so that we might live in newness of life.

This new life, St. Paul goes on to tell us, implies being dead to sin and alive for God in Christ Jesus.  One can believe God exists and strive to live for Him, but that is not what St. Paul is saying.  Jesus is God and we are baptized into Jesus, His humanity and His divinity.  Consequently, we have been given a participation in the divinity of Christ which means we also share in His divine life.

This is the newness of life about which St. Paul speaks.  With sin removed, sanctifying grace, the divine life, is infused into our souls.  Remember that the soul is the principle of life, so because of our soul, we each have natural life.  Now, because we are incorporated into Jesus, our soul also has been given divine life.  So, we do not live for God just because it is the right thing to do, we live for God because He is our Father Who has given us a share in His nature and in His divine life.  We have truly been raised up to a divine level of acting and being.

If we continue to follow the logic of what we are considering, we realize that if we share in God’s nature and in His life, that makes us His children.  The divine nature is love, so we live our lives for God because we have been given the ability to love in a divine way.  As human persons made in the image and likeness of God, we are made to love and be loved, which we can all do in a natural manner.  Now, we can live and love in a divine manner.

This helps us to understand why our Lord would say that if we love our mother or father, son or daughter more than Him we are not worthy of Him.  We have natural relationships with our parents or our children, but we have a supernatural relationship with the Lord.  While we are now able to love our parents and our children in a divine manner, that love can come only from God and the amount of divine love we have depends upon how much we love God. 

If we love someone, whether a spouse, a parent, a child, or a friend, more than we love God, we are not loving those people with God’s love, but with our own natural ability to love.  It is good for these people that we love them, but we are not loving them in the way that is best for them.  Why settle for the lesser when you can have the greater?  We can love these people in a divine way, but we can only love them this way if we first love God and allow His love to flow through us to others. 

We can love God, as mentioned, simply because it is the right thing to do, but that means that we are loving Him with our own natural ability to love.  While this is good, it is beneath the Lord.  That does not mean He shuns our attempt to love Him, but if He has given us the ability to love Him in the way He loves us and with the love with which He loves us, why would we choose to give Him less? 

Remember, love either increases or it decreases.  So, the ability to love God and others in a divine manner must grow.  In order for that to happen, we must first love God then give that love to others.  This is why we must love the Lord more than anyone else.  He is not being selfish when He says we need to love Him more than others.  Rather, He is giving us the means by which we can love the people in our lives more and in a divine way. 

Our Lord promises that if someone performs an act of charity toward us because we are His disciple, that person will not lose their reward.  This means if we love in a divine way, we will grow in love, which is reward enough, but that translates to eternity where our reward is God Who is love itself!

Fr. Altier’s column appears regularly in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly published in St. Paul, Minn. For information about subscribing to The Wanderer, please visit