Today’s Gospel reading from the 10th Chapter of Matthew can be very challenging to us as mere mortals. Looking through the lens of the world one may ask how can Jesus tell us “I have come to bring not peace but the sword.” “I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against mother, etc.” These are hard teachings, but before we jump to conclusions, let us read between the lines a bit. Jesus is not telling us that we should hate our family members; He is telling us that we will not find peace; we will not find the City of God, unless we put Him first and foremost in our lives, unless He is the peak of our affections. When we orient our lives to his teachings, when we place Him in His rightful place before father or mother, son or daughter, etc. we are aligning our free will with His will, we are aligning our world with His world, we are aligning the city of man with the City of God.
Today we celebrate the Memorial of Saint Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church who was born around the year 1218, in his work, Journey of the Mind to God, he teaches, “In order for the Passover to be perfect, we must suspend all the operations of the mind and we must transform the peak of our affections, directing them to God alone.” “We must suspend all the operations of the mind”, we do this by putting Jesus Christ before all earthly things including family.
Today Jesus is telling us that He wants to be the “peak of our affections”. He wants us to align our will with His will, He wants us to transform our lives to His life, then we can take care of Father and Mother, son and daughter, because when we receive Him we receive the one who sent Him. Saint Bonaventure says it best, “Christ is both the way and the door, Christ is the staircase and the vehicle, like the throne of mercy over the Ark of the Covenant, and the mystery hidden from the ages. A man should turn his full attention to the throne of mercy, and should gaze at him hanging on the cross, full of faith, hope and charity, devoted, full of wonder and joy, marked by gratitude and open to praise and jubilation.”
In the Sunday Liturgy yesterday, we heard from the Letter to the Colossians, “He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he himself might be preeminent.” So, let us keep Christ preeminent in our lives, trust in Him, then through this trust, take care of our loved ones, it is the proper alignment for us as Christians.
Deacon James Anderson is the Administrator at Holy Name Passionist Retreat Center in Houston, Texas.