Homily for the Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary
Tiempo de lectura aprox: 2 minutos, 17 segundos
Making Christ Our Priority
‘Faith is hard.’ These are the words of Cherie Hill, a bestselling author on Amazon. Hill goes on to say that ‘And the most difficult truth about faith is that it won’t answer all of your questions in life and it won’t solve all of your problems, either.’ This can throw us out of kilter. Somehow, we do expect faith to provide us with some certainty. But Hill thinks faith is more about trusting in God’s providence than it is about certainty, or the comfort of being a Christian.
She continues, when we set out to build our faith, God comes in and begins to demolish it. Perhaps Christ in Matthew 10:37-42 is out to demolish our preconceptions about faith, to resurvey our narrow-minded landscape of faith. After all, is honour your father and mother not the fourth commandment of God? Is love your neighbour not one of the greatest commands of Christ? Why is He saying, ‘Anyone who prefers father or mother to me is not worthy of me’?
These questions are a cue to what Christ is on about in today’s Gospel reading. He is broadening our faith, knocking down not necessarily the wall we feel is the problem, but the walls that are a problem: our opinions of what faith should be, our so called traditions, teachings that we are so obsessed with, making it difficult for us to hear Him. He wants us to trust Him, to make Him our priority, to part ways with the distractions so that we can faithfully follow in His footsteps.
C. S. Lewis seems to have gotten the crux of Christ’s teaching when he said, ‘I believe in Christianity (Christ) as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.’ So when Christ ask us to prefer Him to our mother, father, children, sisters, brothers, friends, spouses etc. He is not asking us to hate them. He is not asking us to stop caring for them. In fact, He wants to love them rightly, so He asks us to love them in Him.
For without Him, our love for them can easily degenerate into self-seeking love or a kind of mutual egoism. A good example is what is common these days among couples. ‘He has stopped loving me, I will stop loving him too.’ ‘She has been very disrespectful; I will treat her as she deserves.’ This is mutual egoism. There is no reason in this situation to love rightly for the love that exists seems to be self-seeking, and not self-giving. This kind of love does not last for long.
It ends abruptly and it leaves us with ugly scars. Christ wants us to love better, and to love well. So He summons us ‘Anyone who does not take his cross and follow in my footsteps is not worthy me. Notice the words ‘in my footsteps’! He is defining the width and the breadth, the height, and the depth of love. It is no longer love as we want, but love as He wants. To put it in the words of Fr Richard Rohr, it is no longer about us. It is now about Him and His purposes.
When we love as Christ wants, we become true disciples of His, manifesting positive signs which according to Francis Moloney is to be welcoming, allowing other people, with all their needs, to come into our lives. And in this way, we welcome Jesus who is always among us. Stephen is one person who has loved others in Christ. He was knocked back from the seminary for no good reason. Instead of getting angry at the seminary staff, he chose to help the seminary.
He started tutoring seminarians who could not learn ecclesiastical languages since he was good with languages and was well read. He journeyed with seminarians and contributed to their formation. Once when he was interviewed, he told the journalist this, ‘I wanted to become a priest, but I believe God called me to help his would-be priests. And that is what I am doing.’ These words are from a man who has made Christ his priority. His life is no longer about him. It is about Christ. And He can love others selflessly because he has loved Christ first.