Follow in my footsteps
13th Sunday In Ordinary Time: MT 10:37-42
The Bible Society’s Lectio Divina is unavailable for this Sunday. We reproduce this meditation with the kind permission of Magnificat:
Jesus instructed the twelve as follows: “Anyone who prefers father or mother to me is not worthy of me. Anyone who prefers son or daughter to me is not worthy of me” (10:37).
St Thomas Aquinas finds the basis for this challenging teaching in human experience itself: “Sons are naturally subject to their father so that they naturally honour the father so much so that they are more angered over an injury done to the father than over an injury to themselves. And they desire glory for the father more than for themselves.
What a son receives from a father, he receives more abundantly from God, for he himself teaches us, he feeds us, he keeps us safe for ever. Therefore, God should always be loved more. Because nothing can fill one’s whole desire but God.” St Augustine: “Let us answer our mother and our father, “I will love you in Christ, not instead of Christ. You will be with me in him, but I will not be with you without him.’ ” Catechism of the Catholic Church 2232: “Family ties are important but not absolute.” Not worthy: see Mt 22:8; 25:26.
“Anyone who does not take his cross and follow in my footsteps is not worthy of me” (10:38).
St Gregory the Great: “There are two ways in which we bear the Lord’s Cross: either when we afflict our flesh through abstinence, or when, out of compassion for our neighbour, we make their afflictions our own.” Aquinas: “The cross is borne in the heart when one sorrows over sin.” St John Chrysostom: “Christ says, ‘As I have brought you the utmost blessing, so I ask of you in return a singular obedience and affection, that you may be like lions in battle array.’” Follow after me – Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis: “To follow behind Jesus means to be wherever he is, whenever that might be, serving him in doing whatever he happens to be doing. One who follows makes that other’s journey his own.”
“Anyone who finds his life will lose it; anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it” (10:39).
St Hilary of Poitiers: “Apostles must confront their persecutors with contempt for things present, holding fast to their freedom by a glorious confession of faith, and shunning any gain that would harm their souls.” Mgr Romano Guardini: “In the last resort, becoming a believer always means the same thing: another reality looms before the person who was formerly enclosed in their own being, in their own world; before them is another reality, belonging to another world, from above, from beyond. This reality, this beyond becomes more concrete, grows in strength; its truth, goodness and holiness become more definite and demand the allegiance of the one who has been called. The decision to entrust one’s own existence to the strange reality that surpasses it, the sacrifice of one’s own self-sufficiency and of the independence of one’s own world will be difficult. It will mean a rude shock and a gamble. Hence the soul must first lose itself by recognising that there is a second goal, and then must recognise that beyond that lies the true goal.”
“Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me; and those who welcome me welcome the one who sent me” (10:40).
Blessed John Henry Newman: “There are in every age a certain number of souls in the world, known to God, unknown to us, who will obey the Truth when offered to them, whatever be the mysterious reason that they do and others do not. For these we must labour; these are God’s special care, for these are all things.”
“Anyone who welcomes a prophet because he is a prophet will have a prophet’s reward; and anyone who welcomes a holy man because he is a holy man will have a holy man’s reward” (10:41).
Aquinas: “If you cooperate towards the good, you receive the reward of that good; if you supply the helps of life, you receive the reward; for otherwise the prophet would not be able to fulfil his office.” Fr Cornelius a Lapide SJ: “To the measure of charity corresponds the measure of celestial glory and blessedness. For the measure in which someone loves God is the measure in which he will enjoy the beatific vision. The degrees of vision and glory correspond to and are commensurate with the degrees of charity.” Leiva-Merikakis: “The manner in which we receive God’s envoys, particularly when these come to us in a form deemed contemptible by the world, already contains God’s judgment of us.”
“If anyone gives so much as a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple, then I tell you solemnly, he will most certainly not lose his reward” (10:42).
St Jerome: “Who is so weak or poor that they could not give, or at least carry, a cup of cold water?” Servant of God, Mother Mary Alphonsa (Rose Hawthorne): “For every good work, every kindly thought or tiny act of humble helpfulness, God gives a reward, a merited return of sustenance for our souls, or an answer to our pleading for some purpose.” Leiva-Merikakis: “One of the effects of Christ’s instruction has been to strip the Apostles clean of any worldly illusions or means. They are ‘little’ because the world will now have absolutely no use for them.”
Lord, make me mindful of the things that really matter, and give me a disciple’s heart.