Homily for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A
Theme: “Jesus said, ‘Whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.’” (Matthew 10:38-39)
By: Fr. Robert deLeon, CSC
Homily for Sunday June 28 2020
I’d been watching the national news every day hoping to hear something about a medical discovery that will rid the world of the Covid-19 virus. I’m still waiting. But during the week after Easter, I did hear some heartening news. Bill and Melinda Gates announced a gift of 150-million to the World Health Organization, complementing the 100-million the foundation gave to the same cause in February.
Wow! Such a sum was beyond comprehension. While each of us had been asked to do our part to eradicate this awful virus—wear a mask, stay home—Bill and Melinda were in a position to do so much more. But then they are, by some reports, the richest people in the world. But Bill offers a refutation in an anonymous story that has been circulating:
“Someone asked the richest man in the world, Bill Gates, ‘Is there anyone richer than you in the world’ Bill Gates replied, ‘Yes, there is a person who is richer than me.’ He then narrated a story.
“‘It was during the time when I wasn’t rich or famous. I was at the New York Airport when I saw a newspaper vendor. I wanted to buy a newspaper but found that I didn’t have enough change. The vendor said, ‘I am giving you this for free.’ On his insistence I took the newspaper.
“‘Coincidentally, 2 or 3 months later, I landed at the same airport and again I was short of change for a newspaper. The same vendor offered me the newspaper again. I refused and said that I couldn’t take. He said, ‘You can take it. I’m sharing this from my profit, I won’t be at loss.’ I took the newspaper.
‘“After 19 years I became famous and known by people. Suddenly I remembered that vendor. I began searching for him and after more than a month of searching, I found him. I asked him, ‘Do you know me?’ He said, ‘Yes, you are Bill Gates.’ I asked him again, ‘Do you remember once you gave me a newspaper for free?’ The vendor said, ‘Yes, I remember. I gave you a free newspaper twice.’ I said, ‘I want to repay you. I’ll give you whatever you want.’
‘“The vendor said, ‘Sir, you won’t be able to match the help I gave you.’ I asked him why. He said, ‘I helped you when I was a poor newspaper vendor, and now you are trying to help me when you have become the richest man in the world? How can your help match mine?’
‘“That day I realized that the newspaper vendor was richer than me because he didn’t wait to become rich to help someone.’” (Original source unknown)
All through weeks of news broadcasts following the movement of the virus, I considered the price I was being asked to pay for my personal safety: stay home, keep 6 feet away from everybody, wear a mask when leaving the house.
But then I saw photos of the hospital and staff members who were an intimate part of my life for 17 years before my retirement one year ago. On succeeding days watching the news, I heard stories of doctors, nurses and ancillary staff dying from the virus even as they struggled to bring their patients back to good health. I wondered what it would be like had I not retired but continued on as a chaplain at that hospital.
In the gospel passage we hear today, “Jesus said, ‘Whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.’” (Matthew 10:38-39) Yes, this is surely healthcare workers who, knowing the price might be their very lives, yet came to bedsides of Covid-19 patients to do whatever they could to bring relief and healing.
Bill and Melinda Gates donated 250 million dollars to the World Health Organization to fight the pandemic virus. A struggling Hispanic housekeeper at a New York City hospital died doing her part. She caught it and died.
What is our continuing role? What price are we being asked to pay?