Daily Reflection – 7/15/19
Jesus said to his Apostles: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. For I have come to set a man ‘against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s enemies will be those of his household.’ 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 righteous 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 he is a disciple– amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.” When Jesus finished giving these commands to his twelve disciples, he went away from that place to teach and to preach in their towns. (Matthew 10: 34-11:1)
This gospel passage, if taken literally, would cause people to wonder if the Jesus of peace, compassion and love had somehow disappeared and another Jesus had surfaced. But that’s not the case. The Gospel has to be understood in terms of when it was written and why it was written.
Jesus was exhorting the apostles to have courage under persecution. He was aware that his message would not be accepted by everyone, and he warned his followers that members of their own families might be their adversaries. Those who wished to follow in Jesus’ footsteps must be willing to put the gospel before all else — even their own lives. They must be prepared to be treated like the prophets of old who suffered for proclaiming God’s word. The apostles were Christian “prophets” who would speak God’s saving message of the gospel. Whoever offered hospitality to them received Jesus himself and God who sent him, and they would be rewarded for their kindness.
Jesus’ purpose was not to set people against each other. His hope was to draw all into the Kingdom, where everyone respected and cared for others. That outcome, however, required conversion. Not all would accept Jesus’ invitation to change; some, indeed, would oppose it.
Jesus obviously wished that those sent out to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom realized what might lie before them. The message of God’s Kingdom would not be seen as good news by many: especially by those with vested interests.
The words of Jesus in this Gospel are crystal clear: whoever receives YOU, receives ME. This Gospel challenges us to live our lives as an ambassador for the One who sends us. If Jesus sends us out into the world, we need to realize it really is Him we represent; so, if we can shift our focus to “less my way; more God’s way” then we’ll have a better chance of reflecting the One we really want others to receive. We want our message to be clear. We want our words to be matched by actions. We want people to see in us a message of Christ . . . a message of love, compassion and peace. We want them to know the beauty of the Lord so they can receive the amazing mercy, love and grace He offers.
Prayer of The Day
Lord, I pray for the grace to go forward in faith with you by recognizing your face in the poor, the suffering, the needy and reaching out to them with the same unconditional love that you love me.
Jesus shows that he is not calling us to a love of God that excludes others. The standard of placing God first does not exclude love for mother or father, sister or brother. Once we love God as he deserves, we will learn to love others as they truly deserve. In fact, we merit the vision of the God we cannot see by loving the neighbor we do see.