The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home
June 28, 2020 – Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Matthew 10:37-42
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Today’s gospel is complicated and one that I think is easily misunderstood. Some might think it is anti-family because it seems to say that our love for God (and Jesus) is in competition with our love of family. Or even that love of family is not important. I write these gospel reflections to help readers appreciate the importance of interpersonal life, especially as it exists in marriage, family life and friendship. I want to place those important relationships in the context of a vital Christian life. I try to show the importance of connecting our love of God with our love of neighbor.
In one of John’s epistles it states that if you claim that you love God, but don’t love your neighbor, you are a liar. I take that as one of the most important truths or our faith. Further, at the Last Supper Jesus stated that we are to love one another as he loves us. Neighbor love is placed at the heart of our lives as followers of Jesus.
Based on this gospel (and other teachings of the church) we learn that there is to be a certain priority of values in our life. Because we are created by God, loved by God and will be with God forever (our deepest hope), God should be first in our lives. Not because God needs us, but rather because we need God. All our personal life ultimately comes from God. Thus, God should be our first and primary consideration. Once we do that, all else in our lives can be placed in proper order. All the other parts of our life, all that we love here on earth, can be expressions of our love for God.
Because we are loved by God and love God before all else (the First Commandment) we can love very fully all that God has created. That even includes loving ourselves. But also, those with whom we share life during our earthly lives. Because so much of that life is rooted in family relationships, family relationships play an important role in our life with God. So too do friendships, relationships with neighbors, co-workers, even strangers. In that sense, every other person on earth with us are our neighbors.
In recent months, because of the perils associated with Covid-19 and the many issues related to racial injustice, we are reminded that we are all neighbors to each other and that we have responsibilities for each other. Out of our love for God, we love all others too.
©David M. Thomas, PhD