Commitment to Jesus: Utmost priority
Hyperbole - it's a 50-cent word for a figure of speech that most of us have used a million times.
We express the intensity of our convictions, the importance of our insights, or the urgency of our needs by extreme exaggeration. So we might say that a toothache is killing me or the freeway's a parking lot or the new baby is the most gorgeous child on the planet.
When Jesus tells us in Sunday's Gospel that we can't be his disciples without hating our family members, he is not contradicting his law of love. He is speaking in hyperbole to heighten the urgency of his insight: Commitment to Jesus must take priority over everything else - even commitments as important and valuable as family - if the love we share with others is to be authentic.
in Ordinary Time
(Sunday, Sept. 9, 2007)
Psalm 90:3-6, 12-17
Philemon 9-10, 12-17
Make no mistake: This level of commitment is costly. Jesus likens it to carrying a cross. It's a cross that appears in many forms, depending on the circumstances of our lives. Yesterday it might have been shaped like the demands of raising children; today it may take the form of caring for failing parents; tomorrow the cross we bear could be the burdensome weight of an unpopular but necessary challenge to power.
The severity of this standard seems impossible to attain, and if hearing it rocks our confidence in our ability to change, that's not a bad thing. Because the confidence which allows us to persist in the Christian life, which sustains us in the transformative but painful work of carrying the cross, does not reside in our strength of will. Our confidence rests on the sure and steady bedrock of Christ's love.
What do my actions in daily living suggest my priorities are?
What's one specific way I might seek help in carrying my current cross more peacefully?
In spite of the jarring harshness of Jesus' hyperbole, it is communion with him that empowers us to truly love, not only our families and friends and strangers, but even our enemies.
This column is offered in cooperation with the North Texas Catholic of Fort Worth, Texas.
This week's readings
Week of September 9 - 15, 2007
Sunday, September 9, 2007
Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading I: Wis 9:13-18b
Reading II: Phmn 9-10, 12-17
Gospel: Lk 14:25-33
Monday, September 10, 2007
Reading I: Col 1:24--2:3
Gospel: Lk 6:6-11
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Reading I: Col 2:6-15
Gospel: Lk 6:12-19
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Reading I: Col 3:1-11
Gospel: Lk 6:20-26
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Memorial of Saint John Chrysostom, bishop and doctor of the Church
Reading I: Col 3:12-17
Gospel: Lk 6:27-38
Friday, September 14, 2007
Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Reading I: Nm 21:4b-9
Reading II: Phil 2:6-11
Gospel: Jn 3:13-17
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows
Reading I: 1 Tm 1:15-17
Gospel: Jn 19:25-27 or Lk 2:33-35
Pope's Prayer Intentions
September General Intention
Romanian Assembly. That the ecumenical assembly in Romania this month may contribute to the growth of unity among all Christians.
September Mission Intention
Missionaries. That, following Christ joyfully, all missionaries may know how to overcome the difficulties they meet in everyday life.
Prayer for the summer season
ALMIGHTY and most merciful God, before our first parents, Adam and Eve, sinned, they lived and were very happy in the Garden of Eden. There, as we read in the Holy Book, You would walk with them "in the afternoon air," and they heard the sound of You in the garden.
God, ever since then, a garden is a holy thing. You still walk there with us in the afternoon air. You walk with those who can see You and Your generous and merciful providence working for us in the green things that grow and the trees that blossom and bear such rich and nourishing fruit.
Bless all our gardens and orchards in this broad land of ours, dear God, and give us rich and plentiful harvest. Help us, as we go about our work here, to see You in Your loving kindness, working for us and with us.
Help us to do Your will at all times. Then, some day, we will walk with You and Your Son, and our dear Mother Mary, down the paths of another Garden, far better, far more beautiful than even the Garden of Eden. Amen.
From the National Catholic Rural Life Conference