Feast of St Bonaventure
We have just read the conclusion of Matthew’s effort to gather in one place (Chapter 10) Jesus’s instructions to his disciples as to how they should conduct their evangelization efforts, the challenges they would face when they undertook this task and the difference responding to the good news makes in the lives of those who accept this message. In the highly charged atmosphere of the Roman Empire of 50-100 AD the consequences of accepting the Christian message could and did divide families. In 2013 enthusiastically accepting and living the faith might more mean incomprehension on the part of family members and friends rather than outright hostility. Yet that is a price many are willing to pay as they enter RCIA programs in response to hearing the invitation of Jesus to follow him as a Catholic.
Jesus asks this question of every disciple: who or what do you really love? That question has never changed down through the ages. The answer has not changed either. I must love Jesus more than any human person and be ready to sacrifice my life or possessions for his sake. In stark terms: I must "take up his cross and follow after him". Only in giving will I find the life that Jesus offers.
Jesus concludes by speaking of the reward that comes with responding to the good news. The mystery is that whoever accepts the message receives Jesus himself and "the one who sent him", the Father. Accepting the message also demands action. Even the simple act of giving someone a cup of cold water will be rewarded. In the heat of this summer, with temperatures close to 100 degrees some days, we recognize how life saving and refreshing a cup of cool water is.
Fr. Michael Hoolahan, C.P. is on the staff of Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.