Scripture:Jesus said to his disciples, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the Earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:34-39)
Reflection:Another cost of discipleship is family division. According to the Matthean Jesus, those who place family members ahead of him are not worthy of him. He demands total commitment, and that allegiance divides fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, and others. In other words, being a follower of Jesus does not bring peace; it brings a sword of division. A son disagrees with his father about some behavior, and their relationship is divided. A daughter disagrees with her mother about appropriate public dress, and their relationship is fractured. Words about religion, politics, race, etc., are exchanged among in-laws, and relationships are broken.
Taking up the cross further divides people. Why? Because carrying the cross of disease, economics, faith, etc., means that a person does not do what others think he or she should be doing. In the popular mindset, every disease is to be fought, but the one carrying its cross may decide to submit. Those who are economically suffering are supposed to find a job, but the one carrying the cross may submit by selling everything to live simply. And the cross of faith, that is, submission to God, may be the last thing anyone wants to carry; it leaves one bruised and battered.
In a culture that idolizes family – husband, wife, and two children – Jesus’s words sting. According to the Matthean Jesus, life is not found in saving it in family; life is found by throwing it away. There can be no clinging to anything or anyone. Those who learn this truth know that a spirituality of mission costs division in one’s family. It leaves people separated. In a culture that often values family above all else, this can be a difficult cost to pay.
Journal/Meditation: What division exists in your family as a result of discipleship?
Prayer:Almighty Father, your Son did not bring peace to the Earth, but brought division with the sword of his teaching, making one’s foes the members of his or her own household. Grant me the grace to love Jesus Christ above all and to take up my cross and follow him so that I may be worthy of him and lose my life for his sake in order to find it. I ask this through the same Christ, my Lord. Amen.