MATTHEW 10: 37-42

Today’s gospel concludes Jesus’ teaching on mission. It is clear that if we are going to walk with Jesus, we have a price to pay. Sacrifice and suffering are part of the journey. This is the way to life and freedom in the scheme of the gospel. The gospel law of love means that persons who seek only themselves are bound for ruin. Our salvation is found in moving out of ourselves in service and reconciliation.

I like to reflect about our encounter with God’s will with this example. Each morning we wake up with a short note from God awaiting us on this imaginary table next to our bed. It is our to-do list for the day. The top priorities are relationships and responsibilities. Each of us in the journey of life has created a network of love and service. This is the clearest expression of God’s will for us.

Today’s seemingly severe words of Jesus about family are simply an invitation to put everything in order. When we love God first, not only do we love our family more, this love is more selfless and life-giving, free of deception and illusion.

Likewise, discipleship of Jesus enriches and expands our vision of the world. Our daily responsibilities of work, community and society open up to new horizons when we walk with Jesus. We are invited beyond the surface, outside the narrow limits of our selfishness. We are called to enter into the depths of life where we meet the wonder of God’s love in the ordinary flow of life.

Jesus makes it clear. We need sacrifice and deeper reflection to transform our lives with our families and our professional responsibilities. This same sacrificial effort opens up how we relate to our neighbors, how we face the challenge of a world suffering from the neglect of our indulgent lifestyle. Our consumer culture has set no limits on our desires. We are on the edge of destroying our planet. God’s will is clear. Enough already!

Today’s gospel tells us those who seek themselves are on the road to self-destruction. Our relationship with God, our loved ones, our community and our world only finds life through self-giving.

“Anyone who does not take his cross and follow in my footsteps is not worthy of me. Anyone who finds his life will lose it; anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.” Mt 10: 38-39

Jesus of the gospels is clear. The way to life is through sacrifice, self-denial and our daily cross. Our great and continuing temptation is to create a new Jesus in our own image that frees us from the harshness of this clear message.