Jesus sacrificed everything for our sake. He was tortured, suffered and crucified for our own sake. The only way to appreciate this kind gesture is to love Him and do everything for His sake too. The Love for Jesus should principally guide everything that we do.
In today’s gospel, Jesus instructs the twelve apostles “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth: it is not peace I have come to bring, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. A man’s enemies will be those of his household”. He says this to remind them of the need to love Him. In the world, many will hate them and attack them. Then, the only thing that will lead them through these harsh moments, will be the love they have for Him.
Therefore, the love for Jesus is a secret motivation to anyone who truly devotes his or her life to working for Him. Let us take the gospel in detail:
It Is Not Peace I have come to bring, but A Sword.
Peace and sword are two words that cannot exist with each other. It is either you have peace or crisis. Sword as Jesus here signifies a time of crisis.
Jesus says in this gospel that His coming to the world is not to bring peace but sword. This is surprising. We know that Isaiah 9:6 calls Him the Prince of peace.
At the cross, Jesus forgives all His persecutors. In several passages of the gospel, Jesus tells us to forgive those who trespass against us. When He appeared to His disciples, His first greeting was “peace be with you” ( John 20:21).
He tells us that one of the greatest commandments is to love our neighbour ( Mark 12:30-31). So, how does this sword comes in as one of the aims of His coming?
To answer this, let us take a journey to the events of the birth of Jesus. When the angels appeared to the shepherds to give them the Good news. The Angels made a revelatory statement. They said “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of goodwill (Luke 2:14).
In this statement, we see the reason Jesus makes this statement. What they are saying is that the peace that Christ gives is only for the people of goodwill. They are those people who decide to live by the gospel message.
We remember that when Jesus is sending His apostles in Luke 10, He instructs them “whichever house you enter, say “peace be with you. If there is a man of peace, the peace will go to them, otherwise, that peace will return to you. So, the peace of Jesus Christ is for those who live according to His commands. Living according to the gospel may then create enmity with those who hate the gospel.
Those who hate the gospel will criticize and misunderstand those who live according to the gospel. When they say no to their evil schemes, it may bring enmity and division among them.
Anyone who decides to live on Christian ideals may not be understood by those who decide not to. This might lead to hatred, persecution etc. We always experience this from our friends, family, household etc. They make a caricature of your prayer life. Sometimes, they fight you secretly to pull you down. Therefore, war has always been between good and evil. So, this sword is a war against the enemies of Christianity and kingdoms of darkness. Only when the love for Jesus supersedes can we be able to stand strong.
Love of Mother and Father more than Me.
Then, Jesus says “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.”
He is saying that anyone who loves his father and mother more than he loves Jesus Christ is not worthy of Him. This does not mean we should not love them but our love for them should not demean the love of Christ.
For example; when we watch either of our parents perpetrate evil and we keep quiet because they are our parents. When we lose hope in God because our parents advise us to do so. Also, when we lose faith in God because we prayed for them when they were sick but could not see any improvement. Then, we hate God and lose faith. For Jesus, this should not be. The love for Him must be our guiding principle.
Therefore, the love for Jesus should be the first and not the last. Never allow anything to affect your faith. Jesus reigns supreme.
Anyone Who does not take His Cross
Jesus also says that anyone who does not take up his cross and follow Him is not worthy of Him. Crosses are simply those things you want to do but you cannot do them because of the love for Jesus.
They are crosses because your body needs them for pleasure but you said no to them. You carry them as your crosses. You do not want anything that will take you away from Him.
They can be also those things that bring us pain, misery and suffering because of our faith. Therefore, whoever follows Jesus only when things are going well and only because of what He will do for him or her is not worthy of Him. Whether good or bad, our love for Jesus should supersede. Jesus should reign supreme.
Whoever welcomes You Welcomes Me
He further tells His apostles “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and those who welcome me welcome the one who sent me”.
Jesus was addressing this to His disciples. His disciples are His representative on earth. Whoever offers anything to any follower of Jesus, whoever offers anything to those who carry the burden of preaching his word will never go unrewarded.
In giving, we do it for the love of Jesus. In working and touching souls, we do it for the love of Jesus. We do everything for Christ. If you cannot love and help your neighbour, you can do that because he or she is a Christian or because Jesus also died for him. We do everything for the love for Jesus and this love should supersede.
Therefore, when you do not want to help one another, help anyway. When you do not want to pray, pray anyway. When there is the temptation to lose faith, do not lose faith anyway. If not another thing, do it for the love for Jesus. The love for Jesus should supersede.
May He bless you, and help us to love Him beyond everything. Amen