Monday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Jesus said to his apostles, "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 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. (From Mathew 10:34-11:1)
It’s a special relationship when people make it a habit of saying, “I love you” to each other upon greeting or saying goodbye. As I meet different families, I have found that this is often a regular practice. Parents say it to their children. Their children reply with the same. They do it in person. They do it when they’re about to hang up the phone. In my family, too, this is always an inspiration to me. It’s not only a sign of love, but it’s also a sign of respect and shows that we remember “the blessing of” the other person. Throughout my life there have also been certain people, every now and then, who will reply, “love you more.” One of my nephews, for example, routinely says this. In all, for most of us, this is our attempt to describe in words a gift that comes from above.
I recall this dynamic in light of the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel passage. For most of us, if not all of us, it is impossible to find the words to describe the love for our children. Still, Jesus says what he says. The most direct interpretation of his statement is, that, no one thing and no one person should come before God in our lives. In all things, it is our vocation to “be transparent” to the love and presence of God within us. Let’s put it another way. A few years ago, I celebrated the funeral of a delightful Baptist lady. She was the mother of my cousin’s wife, and we were all very close. At the end of the service, she and her 2 brothers stood up to speak about their mother. The brothers went first and both said, more than once, “Mom always made you feel like she loved you more.” But then my cousin’s wife, the one daughter, stood and jokingly said, “well, I’m going to disagree with my brothers.” Then she said what I’ve never forgotten, “I won’t say that our Mom loved each of us the most. I will say this. Mama loved each of us as we needed to be loved.” Wow. “…as we needed to be loved.” I think this is what Jesus is getting at today, at least, in part. Every relationship is unique. Sometimes loving is easy, and sometimes it can be difficult. We are indeed called to love each person in our life as God calls us to, and we are called to give God the highest place and utmost priority in our lives.