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A Love That Is Worthy of Jesus
Monday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
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. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s enemies will be those of his household. “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. “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever receives a righteous man because he is righteous will receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because he is a disciple—amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.” When Jesus finished giving these commands to his twelve disciples, he went away from that place to teach and to preach in their towns.
Opening Prayer: Lord, I pray that I may value and put my friendship with you before every other human attachment or relationship, confident of your love and your faithfulness.
- Stirring: Jesus isn’t afraid of stirring things up. He calls out and challenges us to sincerely choose, which can cause a real struggle in our hearts every day. Out of love for us, he is jealous for our absolute allegiance. Jesus wants us to put no other security, dependence, or attachment before our friendship with him. He knows nothing can compare to the profound happiness and fulfillment that comes from intimacy with God alone. Jesus is how God restores his friendship with fallen humanity. He seeks us out. ”Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything (Pope Benedict XVI).
- Taking up the Cross: Christ’s demands can seem tough. To be a follower of Christ requires a capacity for self-denial and total trust in him. Yet, Jesus never asks us to do more or give up more than what his grace can sustain or provide for. To be faithful to his will, we must embrace the necessary difficulty and hardship. We look at Jesus who has gone before us carrying the Cross. We must take up our crosses leaning on his promise to walk with us and never leave our side.
- Giving and Receiving: At the end of illustrating what it takes to be one of his followers, Jesus points out what should be our motivation for attracting others to Christ. Only if we are convinced that an encounter with Christ is what every heart needs will we be able to find the strength to overcome any nervousness, hesitancy, or fear to introduce others to Christ. Anyone who knows me should be getting to know the love of Christ through my virtue, goodness, and charity.
Conversing with Christ: Lord, you talk about rewards for those who persevere in carrying the cross. Through your suffering, I gained eternal life. There can be no more worthy task than offering my crosses so others may know you. Help me to be a faithful friend by accepting your will and holding nothing back in reflecting your goodness and love to others.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace, I will go out of my comfort zone to extend an invitation to someone to get to know you better by sharing with them a book on prayer, inviting them to join me to pray, visit a church, or attend Mass.
For Further Reflection: Delve deeper by reading more from Pope Benedict’s homily, April 24, 2005: “Are we not perhaps all afraid in some way? If we let Christ enter fully into our lives, if we open ourselves totally to him, are we not afraid that he might take something away from us? Are we not perhaps afraid to give up something significant, something unique, something that makes life so beautiful? Do we not then risk ending up diminished and deprived of our freedom? And once again the Pope said: No! If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed. Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation. And so, today, with great strength and great conviction, on the basis of long personal experience of life, I say to you, dear young people: Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ—and you will find true life. Amen.”
Written by Lucy Honner, CRC.