Love and Reception
For Sunday, July 2nd, 2023
Jesus said to his apostles: “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 his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
“Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because the little one is a disciple—amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.”
In the first part of today’s Gospel, Jesus speaks of three loves that should not supersede the love of God. They are the love of father and mother, the love of son or daughter, and the love of self. Our love must be ordered in and to God.
It is right to love one’s mother and father. Parents are God’s instruments of life and teaching. Likewise, it is right to love son or daughter. As a father, it is your responsibility to provide for your children’s education; this education includes showing your children how to love and to recognize that they are loved. Lastly, it is natural to love oneself in order to care for the needs of body and soul. Love of self is often a vice because it is very easy to love yourself in a disordered way.
All these loves must be directed toward a love for God. Parents are the instruments of God who brought you life and education. If you are a parent, God has entrusted the care of his little ones to you. And you yourself are a child of God. In rightly loving yourself, you are honoring the God who created you.
What does loving yourself virtuously look like? It entails knowing your true good and doing what is necessary to pursue it: Taking up your cross and following Christ. As a Christian, you are called to love yourself by leading a life of prayer and asceticism. As Paul says, “Far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Galatians 6:14).
In the second part of today’s Gospel Jesus talks about the rewards for receiving certain persons. In receiving a disciple, you receive Christ; in receiving Christ, you receive the one who sent Christ, the Father. Likewise, when you receive a prophet—on account of his prophecy—you receive a prophet’s reward, and when you receive a righteous man—on account of his righteousness—you receive a righteous man’s reward.
Saint Jerome offer’s an interpretation of the reception of prophets:
In every profession (of faith), there are weeds mixed in with the wheat. [Jesus] had previously said: “He who receives you, receives me, and he who receives me, receives him who sent me.” He had challenged the disciples to receive teachers. A concealed reply of the believers could have been: Should we then receive even false prophets and Judas the traitor, and supply their cost of living? The Lord, attending to this matter earlier, says that it is not the persons who are to be received, but the offices; and those who receive them will not lose their reward, even if the one who is received is unworthy.
In your prayer today, love Christ first. Then, ask him to show you how this love will manifest itself in your relations to self, others, and God.
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