Reflecting on Mt. 10: 37-42
I love showering the people I love with love. That’s why this gospel pericope (extract from the text) REALLY bothers me. Jesus challenges tribal identity when he tells his apostles they must love him more than they love their parents, or even their children.
When I drive by the hundreds of encampments of chronically unhoused people in our city, it’s clear that the bonds that hold families together aren’t strong enough to combat, as our mayor said, “a nationwide drug crisis, mental health crisis, and continued fallout from the pandemic on our most vulnerable residents and communities.”
Many people living on the street are disabled, or escaping domestic violence. And a preponderance of young, emaciated men are living on the street because of addictions.
I really wonder if there were encampments in Jesus’ day. Were there hundreds of thousands of people living out in the elements, not because they were pilgrims, but because their families couldn’t help them anymore, or because their particular situations forced them to reject the help?
As I think of all this now, I see the wisdom in this hard saying of Jesus. That’s why we need to love Jesus MORE than our families. Wars, pandemics, shocking cultural tsunamis have all changed the way we live. Our family bonds have become fragmented and do not seem to have the strength to support us.
What has held us together through it all is our fidelity to, and love of Jesus. Jesus was inviting a love of God that compels us to build communities of love, which reach out and protect and help those whose familial bonds have shattered. That’s the love that may save the whole human family someday.
What ways have you witnessed the love of Jesus poured out on the most vulnerable?
Kathy McGovern ©2023
Two friends whose lives are dedicated to these issues—Rita Niblack and Ann Zimmer—made this essay much better.