Yesterday my mom had time to stop by, see my new assignment, and have lunch with me. Right before she came I was looking at the Gospel and praying over some initial ideas for a homily, and of course the Gospel says that we must love Christ more than our parents… so during lunch I was really hoping that she was going to ask me what I was preaching about because I was ready to get a rise out of her and say, “oh, just how you’re not important to me.” She never asked, though; that might have been the grace of God keeping me out of trouble.
Today’s Gospel starts with some statements from Jesus that at the first hearing are really tough and challenging. He says that whoever loves mother or father more than him is not worthy of him, and that whoever loves son or daughter more than him is not worthy of him. I hope all of you have been blessed with good parents, the kind that have helped you become who you are, but even if not think about the ideal of what a parental relationship should be: the unconditional love of someone who has known you literally your whole life. And while we might not always be the best at it, we want to respond to that love; we want to be the good sons and daughters who love our parents. And those of you blessed to be parents and to have the gift of children, once again there is an indescribable and almost compelling desire to love one’s children, to protect them, nurture them, to see them grow into the person that God willed for them to be.
So take all the image of all that raw and powerful love and hear today that you must love Christ more. And that’s why the very next thing he says is that you must take up your cross and follow him… because you might wonder how it is possible to have a more profound love than the ideal of what parent and child are meant to have, and it should only take one thought about Christ, one look at his Cross for all of us to stop and say, “Oh. Yes. That is the love that I have known that is greater.” Because that is the love that confronted death and defeated it. That is the love that was given to us while we were unworthy, while we were unfaithful, while we were sinners… that is the love that took up the Cross. That is the love that you and I are supposed to imitate.
We must love Christ more. Not love parents less, not love children less… but love Christ more. And we do that by giving our lives to him as we take up the same love that he had for us, the love of the Cross. As Christians we are supposed to look at our parents and love them not just as their sons and daughters but also to love them as if we were Christ himself looking at them. We are supposed to look at our children and love them not just as our children but to love them as Jesus himself loves them. So again, go back to that image of the raw and natural and powerful love between parent and child and amplify it. Raise it. That is what we are supposed to be for one another.
So if you want something to meditate on this week and to challenge yourself with, ask yourself this: how in this week have you loved someone with the heart of Christ. Not just with the heart of a parent or child or spouse or friend… but the heart of Christ. To be worthy of him we must imitate him. To have him in our lives we must be him for others.
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Homilies are meant to be heard, not read… and part of the Eucharistic liturgy, not words that stand alone. Please remember that no homily is written with this blog in mind.