“Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s foes will be those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it. “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me. He who receives a prophet because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward, and he who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.” And when Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities. (Matthew 10: 34 – 11:1)
Today’s Gospel spells out that which is expected of us in our relationship with God.
But it’s not about disliking our parents or arguing with a relative. It IS about the nature of commitment and priority.
The battle Jesus had in mind was not an earthly conflict between individuals and nations, but a spiritual warfare between the forces of Satan and the armies of heaven. Jesus came to wage war against the spiritual powers of this world that turn the minds and hearts of people away from God and his kingdom of joy, peace, and goodness.
The Scriptures make clear that there are ultimately only two kingdoms or powers and that they stand in opposition to one another – God’s kingdom of light and Satan’s kingdom of darkness. John the Apostle contrasts these two opposing kingdoms in the starkest of terms: We know that we are of God, and the whole world is in the power of the evil one (1 John 5:19).
The Scriptures describe the “world” as that society of people who are opposed to God and his kingdom of righteousness, truth, and goodness. Jesus came to overthrow Satan’s power and to set us free from everything that would hold us back from knowing, loving, and serving God who has loved each one of us with boundless mercy, compassion, and goodness.
God must take first place in our lives.
When Jesus said that “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me”: we start getting an inkling of the type of sword our Lord is wielding. He is giving us a criterion that starts from heaven downward because he is trying to lift us from the earth upward. What natural relationship is closer than the one between a parent and child, especially a mother and child? Yet even this bond must be subordinate to the love we have for God.
Why? Well, no creature, not even our parents, can bring us to the fullness of life and happiness that comes only from God. God wants us to love him, not because he needs our love but because we need him. He is objective reality, and we must always move from the subjective to the objective if we are to possess the truth. Jesus invites us to adapt our standards from the merely natural and passing to the supernatural and everlasting.
“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” This is a means by which we can become more united with Christ, the pearl of great price, because we might not appreciate him unless we have to choose him over all of the other good and beautiful pearls in our collection combined.
And that will also be perhaps the greatest preaching of the Gospel, that Jesus is someone worth that choice, and when we make it, he gives us a far greater joy than all of the beautiful human joys that we might have to relativize. That’s the mystery of rejection he talks about and how our faith in the midst of rejection might in and of itself be a form of the proclamation of the Gospel.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord, give me the wisdom and courage I need to accept all You have revealed. Help me to love You above all things and to accept whatever the consequences are of me following You. Jesus, I trust in You.”
The Truth of the Gospel has the power to deeply unite us to God when we fully accept it as the Word of Truth. But another effect is that it divides us from those who refuse to be united to God in the Truth. Jesus offers this passage to strengthen us when this happens. If division happens as a result of our sin, shame on us. If it happens as a result of the Truth (as offered in mercy), then we should accept it as a result of the Gospel. Jesus was rejected and we should not be surprised if that happens to us, too.
Reflect, today, upon how fully you are ready and willing to accept the full Truth of the Gospel no matter the consequences. The full Truth will set you free and will also, at times, reveal the division present between you and those who have rejected God.