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July 17, 2017 - "Lord, Give Us the Courage to Endure"

Monday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

A few days ago, a friend of mine was reading my print out of today's readings and said, "You see…this is a perfect example of why I do not understand Christianity! How can you believe in this?" Needless to say, my friend does not identify himself as a Christian. The passage from chapter 10 of Matthew's Gospel (Mt 10:34-11:1) can be easily misunderstood—even used to point out the 'defects' in the teachings of Jesus. The conversation that followed led me to relate a number personal testimonies (anonymity protected) I have heard in recent years. Yes, even now and in our own communities, belief in Jesus causes division. Yes, children and parents are set against one another and those we always saw as our enemies are now part of our own households. 

In the opening verses, Jesus declares to his Apostles, "Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one's enemies will be those of his household." The 'divisions' Jesus refers to can be interpreted in any number of ways. I thought of the stories of families who expect their children to adhere to the Christian tradition within which they were raised, those who cannot accept the Roman Catholic tradition, or those who have never been baptized in the Christian faith. Looking at the larger picture, we know that Christians are still killed and rejected and shorn, and forced to flee their native lands. I cannot help but think of the young people who, in joining my own Catholic community, have dealt with heartbreaking resistance or downright opposition from parents and family members as well as close friends. Some of them continue to deal with this and hold firm to their calling—the calling they know is true by virtue of their deep experience of the Risen Jesus. The importance of ongoing support from their community (aka…you and me) is obvious; we cannot let just a handful of people assume this responsibility. As with all good (Godly) things, reaching out to our youngest disciples carries a reward far greater than the effort one expends. That is how grace operates! 

How do we, as individuals and as a community of disciples, resist the opportunities God places before us? There are people struggling to live out their call each and every day who carry the added burden of the opposition/resistance of loved ones. This day, let us pray that God sustain them in their journey and grant them the courage to endure as well as the 'peace that surpasses all understanding'. Let us pray that God grant each of us the grace to reject personal indifference and actively support one another, especially our newest disciples, as we all strive to follow Jesus.

 

-Gail Lyman