Life & Soul

Word this week

Jesus and His Disciples (1634) by Rembrandt

The 13th Sunday of the Year
2 Kgs 4:8-11; Rom 6:3-4 & 8-11; Mt 10:37-42 (Year A)

‘Anyone who prefers father and mother to me is not worthy of me. Anyone who prefers son or daughter to me is not worthy of me.” We cannot fail to be challenged, perhaps even shocked, by these words of Jesus. They are taken from the conclusion of a long address describing the mission of the 12 Apostles. Harsh though they appear, they bring us back to the inescapable truth that Christian discipleship can never be about self.

Sinful human nature will always seek to compromise the Gospel, manipulating its truths to its own convenience. Jesus was simply preparing his disciples for the struggles that they would encounter both from a hostile world and from within themselves. We cannot compromise the invitation to take to ourselves the Cross of Christ.

St Paul understood this perfectly, placing it at the heart of our Christian faith: “When we were baptised in Christ Jesus we were baptised in his death; in other words, when we were baptised we went into the tomb with him and joined him in death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the Father’s glory, we too might live a new life.” We who strive for perfection, but are still far from it, can take heart from these words.

The inner voice that clamours for self can never be stilled. It must be surrendered to Christ, whose death alone has power to still the power of sin. “You too must consider yourselves to be dead to sin but alive for God in Christ Jesus.”

The martyrs bear witness to the extreme expression of this choice to die to self so as to live for Christ. For most of us, this witness will come from the countless decisions that await us each day.

If we are faithful to the Lord in little things, we shall find in him the strength that we so often lack in greater challenges. Each and every situation provides the opportunity to die to self, and to live not only for the Lord, but for each other.