The Cost of Christ’s Love

Matthew 10: 34—11:1
Ex 1:8-14,22 / Psa 124

Whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me.
(Matthew10:38)

Where there’s love, there’s also discord,
Just as peace is won with a sword;
'Midst the strife, hold fast to God’s Word,
Where we have hope in God’s reward.

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the 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 one’s foes will be members of one’s own 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 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. Rewards

Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward” (Matthew 10: 34-42).

Reflection

Today’s Gospel reading is a continuation of our Lord’s exhortation to His disciples to hold fast to the mission that they had to undertake. Earlier, Jesus urged them to put their trust completely in God for all their needs, and to forsake their material possessions (10:9). Then He urged them to bear the inevitable persecution (10:17-18). Now He sounded even more discouraging when He said, “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword,” and enumerated how even close family relationships would have to be sacrificed for His sake. But Jesus did not mean to dishearten His apostles or dampen their enthusiasm when He urged them to be prepared for persecution and even forsake loved ones for His sake and for the Gospel. He was simply warning them (and all Christian generations) about the contrary reactions and division that the proclamation of the Gospel would entail from people opposed to it. Our loyalty to Jesus must take precedence over all our attachments and affiliations, and as most of our martyrs exemplified in their lives, even to the point of torture and death. After all, God did not spare His own Son for our own salvation.

At first it would seem paradoxical to read the Prince of Peace saying He did not come to bring peace, but a sword. But our Lord was was simply prophesying as well as preparing His disciples for the inevitable persecutions that bearers of the Gospel would be encountering, even up to the present age. Indeed there would be conflicts – even among family members – over doctrinal differences and Gospel values. In fact, even His own family – the Church—would not be exempt from the coming schisms. But our Lord pointed out that no loyalties or commitments on earth can ever transcend our relationship with Him, even if it means breaking away from our loved ones (as priests and missionaries do for the sake of their vocation), or taking up our cross (trials) to follow Him in our individual missions.

A priest once said in his homily, “Life is all about living out our mission from God, nothing more, and nothing less.” And as many of us have heard in countless other homilies, the common thread that binds all of our life missions is to make God’s love for all men a reality in our own individual undertakings and sacrifices. If our goal in life is simply to become the best or the most successful in our chosen career or profession, then we have not yet discovered the real purpose of our existence.

May we always live Jesus’ message of love in our lives so that we can magnify You, Almighty God. Amen.

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