July 14, 2008
Monday of the fifteenth week in ordinary time
Matthew 10: 34-11:1
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.
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe in you; I know that you are present here and everywhere, and are always looking out for me and guiding me. I trust and hope in you, because I know you will never lead me astray, if only I listen to you and obey you. I love you for being so good and patient with me, and I desire to live each day more faithful to you.
Petition: Help me, Lord, to give myself completely to you, no matter what the cost – to take up my cross and follow you! Give me total confidence in you and in your love, so that I don’t fear to put everything on the line to do your will, knowing that the reward for giving myself to you is much greater than anything I could lose in this world.
1. Christianity Isn’t for the Faint-Hearted. All too often, Christ and the saints are portrayed in images that are perhaps aesthetically beautiful, but which give the impression that holiness is all flowers and sweetness and pious sentiment. In this Gospel passage, Jesus reminds us that being a Christian is not always easy, fun and feel-good; it is difficult and demanding. Christ tells us to take up the cross and follow him, and that means being unabashed witnesses to the truth of the Gospel both in actions and in words, even though that truth will not always be popular. We need to be ready to be “signs of contradiction” and face misunderstanding, rejection and even persecution.
2. Don’t Go with the Flow… The mass media are constantly bombarding us with messages that promote moral relativism, egoism, sensuality and self-indulgence, and they label any opposition to these things as “fundamentalism” and “intolerance.” Those messages are absorbed by many people, even our own families. Taking a tactful and compassionate stance for Christ’s message of humility, of love based on self-sacrifice, on fidelity to moral absolutes, and on accepting God’s will in our lives as the path to salvation, can be very difficult in these circumstances. Nonetheless, it’s really the only way truly to love ourselves and others, because “the truth will set you free.” To follow any path other than Jesus – the Way, the Truth and the Life – is to be a slave of ignorance and sin. Being a witness to this spiritual freedom is the best way to show our love.
3. Good Things Come to Those Who Wait. Jesus doesn’t just tell us that “it’s going to be rough” and leave it at that. He knows that we need motivation, and he gives it by promising that we will be rewarded for anything we give or lose for his sake. Since we know that God can reward us both here and in eternal life, we should be eager to make sacrifices to serve him. Of course, he is not primarily talking about material rewards; the greatest reward he can give us is the gift of himself. He is not inviting us to serve him out of unhealthy self-interest. On the contrary, he is inviting us to lose ourselves in order to find him, and finding him will make us truly happy.
Conversation with Christ: Jesus, my Lord and Savior, strengthen my resolve to do always and only your Holy Will. Give me strength to stand firm in the face of temptation and opposition, wisdom to know how to present your message in a way that brings others to you, and hope and confidence in your promise to give yourself to me. Lord, never let me be parted from you!
Resolution: Today I will make a special effort not to give in to pressure from my environment to do or say anything contrary to God’s will in my life.
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