I put together reflections or devotions for further reflections.
Here is today's. they will continue throughout the week.
'Anyone who loved his father and mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.'
Matt 12: 48-50
'He replied to him, 'who is my mother, and who are my brothers" Pointing to his disciples, he said, 'Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven in my brother and sister and mother.'
It is painful and shocking to hear Jesus say that anyone is not worthy of him. It goes against our dearest held beliefs in a God of ove and in Jesus our friend and brother, who loved all and accepted even the most despised. We (that is clergy) have not been clear enough with our congregations about the delicate balance of a relationship with God through Christ. In saying, Come to me ALL you who are weary and heavy leaden...' Jesus is going against the assumption common to his day taht only the purest (often understood, the wealthiest, most powerful, with the highest social standing) were worthy of God's kingdom. In saying 'ALL' Jesus is redifining who is welcome in the kingdom. It is not and will not be a place for just the 'beautiful people' but is open to all. but then we stop there. The Kingdom is open to all... but that is not all that Jesus said. The 'gatekeeper' of the Kingdom (that is Jesus) isnot looking for wealth or status, true... but he is looking for something. We have hoped that everyone who is 'good' gets 'in'. But Jesus has a higher standard than that... taking up a cross and doing the will of my Father... Those who are welcome in the kingdom and those who hope to be a part of God's Kingdom are those who in their lifetime make the Kingdom and its values their highest priority. Their allegiance is to the Kingdom of God and to that alone.
It is not any easier for me to write this than it is for you to read I am sure. This 'taking up a cross' faith cannot be private, but must be public. It cannot simply be comforting, but must be challenging. It is not only meant for me, but must reach out in service and love to others. It will not always (often rarely) fit easily into the life I alread have and feel comfortable with. It will rearrange my priorities and it will challenge our allegiances.