“Is Jesus an afterthought?”
Matthew 10:37-42 – Sunday Gospel
This Sunday we hear Jesus’ preaching and one may think he is exaggerating. We are told that anyone who loves his or her parents or children more than they love Christ is not “worthy” of him (Matthew 10:37). Truly, he couldn’t possibly mean this literally? Most believe that family is everything and we can’t put God or anything else for that matter before our family.
Christ’s description here is not meant to scare us into thinking we can love our family too much. His words are meant to force us into a corner and confront us about where we place God in our life. Is Jesus an afterthought? Do we ever really talk to him or do we think that is even possible? Are we content with handing him the minimum week after week on our journey of life?
When the pandemic first hit, newspapers, television, and media outlets could be heard preaching phrases like, “be safe,” “stay well,” or even “we’re thinking and praying for you.” Public worship was stripped from us for health purposes, but family dinner tables were consumed by discussions about death. God was more in the picture.
Slowly things are seemingly improving in some areas of the globe, and now people return to their ordinary lives in some sense. Some are returning to Sunday Mass, although the numbers are extremely low. Jesus reminds us today that inattentiveness towards God has an impact. When we don’t love him above all else, we are not worthy to be with him.
Here, a distinction must be made between being worthy and being worth it. God knew we were worth it when he made us out of nothing and out of no need for himself other than a divine desire to be intimately a part of our life. God thought it worth it to become one of us after we had betrayed him, live among us, suffer alone for our sake and even die the most gruesome death possible knowing that we would still deny his worth at times.
Being worthy of something doesn’t necessarily mean you deserve it, biblical worthiness is concerned with the recipient breaking himself open for and being totally receptive to the presence of God. No one ”deserves” God’s grace, life or friendship; we are all fallen, broken and imperfect in some ways.
Despite those flaws we always have the capacity to perform the act that places us on the same playing field as God: we can love. Christ saved us despite our unworthiness and with the knowledge that we would occasionally desert him. However, he still offers us everything; he still shows up in each moment at our side; he still asks us to love him above all else and with everything.
When we love him with everything we become more like him, and that is the mission of God. When we do that, we’ll see that discipleship is not consumed with humanity being deserving of God, but wrapped up with God finding us to be worth everything.
Thomas Griffin teaches Apologetics in the religion department at a Catholic high school on Long Island and lives with his wife. He received a master’s degree in theology from St. Joseph’s Seminary & College and is currently a master’s candidate in philosophy at Holy Apostles Seminary & College. He writes for several Catholic media outlets.
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