Monday July 13, 2020 Feast of St. Henry

Reading: Isaiah 1: 10 – 17; Responsorial Psalm: 50; Gospel: Matthew 10: 34 – 11: 1

Today’s readings contains some of what are called the hard sayings of Jesus: choosing to follow him means some hard choices in life, some involving our closest relationships. 

Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. Finding and losing my life: can anything be more important for me than this? The experience of the pandemic makes this very clear. Yet we realise there are many levels of finding and losing one’s life. Ask for the grace to know how to lose your life for the sake of Jesus.

Jesus is speaking about the cost of discipleship and puts before the twelve the challenge of taking up the Cross as a condition of following him. The litany of references to welcoming suggests that it is often through the small things we do – such as giving a cup of water to somebody in need of it, that we can build the kingdom of God.

Jesus himself warned his disciples that “if they have persecuted me, they will persecute you” – and he condemned the hostility that led people to kill the prophets in the past.

Here he warns his disciples that if they give sincere witness to the way of life he is proposing, this could sometimes mean putting their life in danger. It could also mean setting family members against one another. (We recall some family members pointing out that Saint Thomas More was risking mortal danger, by making a stand in conscience against the king).

These are phrases of Jesus put together as part of what discipleship means. The priority of our relationship with him means not putting anything above him. All is enjoyed and experienced within our relationship with him. This may mean losing treasured bonds and taking up the difficulty of the cross.

When he appeared to Saul (later Paul) as he was rounding-up Christians, Jesus said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting”. But in the same way whenever we welcome a disciple and his message, Jesus can say, “Anyone who welcomes you, welcomes me”. 

These hard words of Jesus can only be understood in the light of our life experience, the times we had to face the dramatic choices Jesus speaks of. We know there are moments when stark choices need to be made to ensure we can still call ourselves disciples of Jesus, moments when we wield the sword of division or separation.

I need to ask myself today.  Do I want to save my life or to lose it? Am I ready to lose it, or do I cling on for fear of losing it? This is perhaps the basic condition for discipleship, and no moralistic or perfect obedience to any law or system of rules can replace it. I ask insistently for the grace of real interior freedom and for courage to be true to myself and to my calling.

Perhaps I sometimes consider the cross as something that weighs me down or as an symbol for the difficulties of modern day life which I can experience. Lord, help me to remember that you carry the cross with me during all of my struggles.

Lord, I pray for the grace to go forward in faith with you by recognising your face in the poor, the suffering, the needy and reaching out to them with the same unconditional love that you love me.

God Bless you.  Have a wonderful day.