Memorial of St. Benedict, abbot
Matthew 10:16-23 (387)
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus gets His disciples ready for the persecutions they will face for following Him. He gives them encouragement, promising them that “whoever endures…will be saved.” He also uses some stark words to prepare them for the worst: “Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death.”
What might these words mean for us today? In the U.S.A., for example, people do not risk their lives in professing to be Christian. Perhaps these words of Jesus can not so much be a description of what could happen to us when we practice our faith, but a warning to us about the consequences of our actions toward others.
Obviously, we would not “hand over” a family member to death, but there are times when we can be tempted to say hurtful words or do hurtful things to one another. And this can happen not only at home, but at work, or school, or even at church. When those temptations come, we may ask ourselves, “Is this life-giving, or death-dealing?”, or “Am I following Jesus here, or something else?”
Our call, of course, is to follow Jesus, and to do what is life-giving. The world has seen enough persecutions and death. There are times when we might not be sure of what to say or do. At those times, and indeed at all times, we can listen to the Spirit given to us, so that in whatever we say or do, it is not us, but the Spirit speaking and working through us.
Fr. Phil Paxton, C.P. is pastor of St. Mary’s Parish, Fairfield, Alabama