Gospel Matthew 10:37-42

‘Anyone who prefers father or mother to me is not worthy of me.’

 And here we have heard probably just about enough.

Who does he think he is? Jesus, who has asked what seems like a hell of a lot from his followers, including such clangers as ‘be perfect…’  is now asking for us to prioritise him over those who we rightly think should be those whom we love the most.

What on earth is he getting at here?

When he tells us that ‘anyone who prefers father or mother to me is not worthy of me’, we are rightly shocked. This shakes us to our very core. How is this possible?

The radical calling of the Gospel is so easy to gloss over in favour of a soft, mushy sentimentality that in the end asks very little of us – promises us less. Hearing passages like this shake us out of the complacency that we so often fall into, and places before us demands that we would naturally think impossible.

How could I love anyone more than my nearest and dearest? And, even if that is possible, why would I?

St Pope John Paul II wrote that, ‘[f]ollowing Christ is not an outward imitation… it touches man at the very depths of his being. Being a follower of Christ means becoming conformed to him who became a servant even to giving himself on the Cross.’

As a spiritual reality love is not something that is finite. The more love is shared, the greater it is. And by loving God, who is in Love itself, our love is purified and magnified. As a result of loving Christ first, my love for my father and my mother, my son or my daughter, wife or husband, is both purified, and magnified.

This love is first given to us, so the correct creaturely posture is one of receptivity. Then, and only then, can we be empowered to love as we should.

Let us pray for this receptive heart.

Point to Ponder

“Following Christ is not an outward imitation, since it touches man at the very depths of his being. Being a follower of Christ means becoming conformed to him who became a servant even to giving himself on the Cross (cf. Phil 2:5-8). Christ dwells by faith in the heart of the believer (cf. Eph 3:17), and thus the disciple is conformed to the Lord.”

Saint Pope John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, 21