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Jesus said to the twelve:
‘Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth;
I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
For I have come to set a man against his father,
and a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
and one’s foes will be members of one’s own 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 the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.
‘Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple – truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.’
Now when Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and proclaim his message in their cities.Matthew 10:34 – 11:1
As we have been journeying through Matthew’s gospel in our daily readings we have come to see Jesus in a context that makes many feel uncomfortable. We have been brought face to face with Jesus the ‘Innovator’, Jesus the bringer of ‘the New and the Different’. Jesus has taught us to seek a new and more intimate relationship with his, and our, Father in heaven, and he has taught us to pray in a different way, and, of course, he has stretched our the hand of healing love to the untouchables of society.
Today Jesus reveals himself as the great innovator yet again. The words that Jesus speaks about division and conflict would not have been new to his Jewish audience, they come from the writings of the Old Testament prophet Micah. By quoting these words Jesus is reminding us that it has always been known that true love of God might well separate us from even those most near and dear to us in this world. But, having delivered these words of dire warning, Jesus also reminds us that those who live the life of true discipleship will come to know the joy of eternal life in the nearer presence of God in heaven.
Jesus also reminds us that devoting ourselves to following him, above all earthly demands, is not a mere intellectual exercise. Jesus tells us that the simplest acts of Christian love, even the quenching of the thirst of the most challenging social outcast, is an act of love to Our Lord himself.
Such acts of love may have been difficult during our days of lockdown, isolation and shielding, but they were not impossible.
How have you demonstrated your devotion to Jesus, and how will you show that devotion even more as the lockdown eases?