TAKE UP OUR CROSSES AND FOLLOW HIM
(A biblical refection on THE 13th ORDINARY SUNDAY [YEAR A], 2 July 2017)
Gospel Reading: Matthew 10:37-42
First Reading: 2 Kings 4:8-11,14-16; Psalms: Psalm 89:2-3,16-19; Second Reading: Romans 6:3-4,8-11
“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who does not take the cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.
He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. He who receives a prophet because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward, and he who receives a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.” (Matthew 10:37-42 RSV)
In today’s Gospel reading the Lord gives some clear guidelines about the quality of love which He asks us to give to Him. The norm, He says, must be greater than the love we have for parents and children – that is, two of the most intimate and tender types of love. So we view the highest and best we humanly have to offer others, and know that our love of God must be more, although we can’t see Him face to face or throw our arms around Him. It is a love indeed, one intimately bound up with a deep and lively faith. We know that He opened His arms on the cross as far as possible to show for all time His tremendous love for us.
A bit further in the Gospel, the Lord says that we are worthy of Him only if we take up our crosses and follow Him. A cross normally reminds us of pain and death, but the messages of love and life are even more deeply imbedded in the cross of Christ.
We do not truly love one another if we only consider our own selfish interests. The kind of sacred caring of which Jesus speaks is very costly. Kindness, patience and trust do not come easily for most people. Real love does not stop at words but hands a cup of cold water to another in need.
Unless we carry a cross and follow the Lord, we are no worthy of Him. Since we want to be worthy of His love and trust, we should clarify what it means “to carry a cross”.
When we welcome an insignificant person and treat him with honor and respect, we are carrying a cross. That’s not too difficult. When we do our work well and uncomplainingly even though we don’t feel like it, that’s carrying a cross. When we suffer a terrible tragedy and still believe in God’s eternal goodness, we are carrying a cross.
Jesus left heavenly Father and earthly mother for us, and we were His cross. Our crosses are to carry whatever life hands us and to walk through this world back to Him. The cross is basic to Christianity. It signifies the present cost of living, of loving and of following the Lord.
(Adapted from Rev. James McKarns, GO TELL EVERYONE, pages 62-63)
Prayer: Lord Jesus, by faith I want to die to myself and live in union with You today. By Your Holy Spirit, apply the power of the cross to all that is fallen within me and empower me to live to please Your heavenly Father. Amen.
Jakarta, 30 June 2017
A Christian Pilgrim