Monday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time, July 13
Jesus Sets Before Each of Us the One Goal in Life that Is Worth Any Sacrifice, and that Goal Is Fulfilling the Will of God in Our Own Lives, Which Leads to Everlasting Love, Peace and Joy with Our Heavenly Father.
“I have come to bring not peace but the sword.” – something we don’t expect to hear our Lord saying; and yet, this is exactly what we hear in today’s Gospel. And in the following verses – difficult words to be sure!
But behind these words is a Truth which goes much deeper, a Truth which provides us with a window through which we begin to catch a glimpse of the true meaning of the value of the cross.
I remember reading an article some time ago about the declining attendance at not only Catholic Masses, but also Protestant and Jewish services. Questions were posed to a group of individuals as to why they had decided to distance themselves from any form of organized religious services.
Their responses bordered on ambivalence or mixed feelings to disdain for any kind of organized beliefs, and they themselves felt that there was nothing wrong with their way of thinking, and that they were basically good people, who would turn to prayer whenever they felt so inclined. They felt that they needed no one to tell them what to believe or how to believe it.
When I began thinking about this story in preparation for today’s meditation, I realized the great danger that exists in twisting God’s Truth so that it complies with our own way of thinking, a desire that we can live our life the way we want, rather than the way God wants us to live it.
This danger is what several of our popes over the past decades have referred to and condemned, and what I have written about several times in the past, as moral and theological relativism, a secular way of thinking and a way of living which denies Divine Truth, and replaces it with a personalized, secular truth – a truth which is based upon a philosophy of ego and self-importance and self-gratification.
And this way of thinking is certainly not new. When we look at our Readings for today, we find God’s Truth being ignored, His Truth being shoved into the background, so that man might revel in more earthly desires, so that man may do as he wishes, not as God wishes.
And God is so affronted with this, that we hear Him speaking to His people through the prophet Isaiah saying, “When you spread out your hands, I close my eyes to you; Though you pray the more, I will not listen.”
And yet, even in the midst of the offenses which God’s children commit against His Divine Love, in the richness of His Mercy, God continually invites us to partake of His Goodness, as we read in today’s Responsorial Psalm, “He that offers praise as a sacrifice glorifies me; and to him that goes the right way I will show the salvation of God.”
Is it any wonder that Jesus speaks with such frankness in today’s Gospel to all those whose hardness of their hearts would turn them away from God’s invitation to personal salvation? “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.”
Jesus is telling us in symbolic imagery that if we do not empty from ourselves our own pride, our own arrogance, our own selfishness, our own disobedience, and begin to take upon ourselves a humility, a meekness and a true desire to lose ourselves for His sake, then we shall have no part of His Kingdom – “Whoever finds his life will lose it…”
And yet, in the midst of this stern warning, our Lord still assures us that if we place Him first in our lives, if we truly live in our hearts all that He has taught us, then, as Jesus says in today’s Gospel, we shall surely not lose our reward – “…whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
As faithful disciples of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, I am sure that we each worry about our children or family members or close friends or loved ones – all who may be living a lifestyle which embraces moral and theological relativism, as I explained earlier.
It is important that we never fail to pray for them. It is important that we always show them love and a good example for them to follow, an example which is continuously nourished with God’s grace through a sincere prayer life and the Sacraments of our Holy Church.
In the midst of the many displeasures which God’s children render to Him, God never ceases to continually reach out to His children with Love, with an invitation beckoning them to return and become enfolded once again in His Most Merciful Heart.
In the midst of what sometimes seems like a declining faith among many of God’s children, Jesus never refuses to give to anyone in need who asks for His help, as long as they ask with a true surrender and a truly opened and contrite heart.
And it this Love which God has for His children which should also compel us to express true charity and love towards one another, for we are all created in the image and likeness of God, no matter what our race, color, nationality or ethnic origins may be.
Jesus declared that any kindness shown and any help given to our brothers and sisters in Christ will not lose its reward. And as His disciples, we are called to be as kind and generous as He is.
Jesus sets before each of us, as His disciples in the world which we live today, the one goal in life that is worth any sacrifice, and that goal is fulfilling the will of God in our own lives, which leads to everlasting life, everlasting peace and everlasting joy with our Heavenly Father –
– an eternity of love for which each of us yearns and only He can truly satisfy! †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “[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.’” (Matthew 10:34)
- “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.” (Matthew 10:37)
- “When you spread out your hands, I will close my eyes to you; Though you pray the more, I will not listen.” (Isaiah 15ab)
- “…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.” (Matthew 10:38-39)
- “Rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, insincerity, envy, and all slander; like newborn infants, long for pure spiritual milk so that through it you may grow into salvation, for you have tasted that the Lord is good.” (1 Peter 1:2-3)
- “Those who offer praise as a sacrifice honor me; I will let him whose way is steadfast look upon the salvation of God.” (Psalm 50:23)
- “For I kept the ways of the LORD and was not disloyal to my God. For his ordinances were all present to me, and his statutes I put not from me; But I was wholehearted toward him, and I was on my guard against guilt. And the LORD requited me according to my justice, according to my innocence in his sight.” (2 Samuel 22:22-25)
- “Keep yourselves in the love of God and wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. On those who waver, have mercy; save others by snatching them out of the fire; on others have mercy with fear, abhorring even the outer garment stained by the flesh.” (Jude 1:22-23)
- “I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2)
Prayer for the Day
no eye has seen, no ear has heard,
no heart has conceived the things You have prepared
for those who love You.
“Set us ablaze with the fire of the Holy Spirit,A Christian’s Prayer Book
that we may love You in and above all things,
so as to receive the rewards You have promised,
through Christ our Lord. Amen.”