The Gospel reading which the Church presents us with today is a very challenging one, which goes to the heart of our mission as followers of Christ. While the words of Jesus here may seem harsh and inhumane, they teach us a great deal about what it means to put God first in our lives. While Jesus is not asking those who follow him to abandon their loved ones, he does make the point that we are not to put anything in this life before God, even our family and friends. While it would be wonderful if all of those closest to us supported us in our faith, this is not always the case, and we very often encounter opposition from those whom we love. We need to pray that God will give us the courage to be able to be strong in standing up for what believe in, even when our stance for Christ and in defense of Gospel values might mean that we become unpopular and have to bear persecution from those we hold most dear.
There is always the temptation, especially in our modern society, to compartmentalize our faith and banish it to the private forum. Being a follower of Christ, however, means that our faith influences all that we do and say. In a number of countries, Christians are being persecuted, some even to the point of death, for their faith in Jesus Christ. The faith of these Christians is put to the test from one day to the next, where they are called to live out their faith in a radical way, unafraid of those who can hurt the body, but not the soul. We can learn so much from these Christians who are under attack simply because they will not abandon their relationship with the Lord. While we do not experience threats to our lives and well-being, we too must pray that God will give us the courage to live out our faith in the public arena. There seems to be a tendancy in our modern society to make faith into a private affair which bears no influence on the way in which we live our day to day lives. Our Faith in Jesus Christ, however, needs to be rooted deep within us so that it can adequately influence our daily activities. We must be unafraid to become Christ in the world, where we are the witnesses of his message.
As Jesus Christ says in the Gospel reading, we have a duty to go out and to, “spread the news of the Kingdom of God.” We cannot, however, spread what we do not have. It is only when we develop a personal relationship with Our Lord that we will be able adequately witness to his message. This relationship comes from spending time with Christ in prayer and studying what he has revealed to us in the Bible and in Sacred Tradition. We also need to make a conscious effort to participate in the Sacramental life of the Church. Christ desires to have a relationship with each one of us, but we need to allow him to enter into our lives. When we have a relationship with Jesus, that relationship can flow outwards to others, who we bring into relationship with Jesus as well.