“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household. 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 the cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”
Now when Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and proclaim his message in their cities.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
I once had a mentor who used to say, “My children do not belong to me. They belong to God.” We did not have children at the time, but this maxim stuck with me when our first child was stillborn, and with each of four live births that followed.
The first loss was devastating. There were also many graces, especially the truth behind, “my children do not belong to me….” We are given the privilege of loving children, of also loving mother and father, sisters and brothers, in and through and on behalf of Christ.
Relationships with kids or spouse or friends or community members can easily become idols. Living our baptism means making Christ the axis on which our life and love turn, rather than any other relationship. And so, it can feel that Christ has brought a sword. But isn’t this necessary? For if we have given our children Christ’s “cup of cold water” in baptism, then our task of parenting is to prepare them to know his death, which they received in baptism. And also, to desire the newness of life that we cannot receive from each other; only from knowing and following Christ. (Rom 6:3-4)
—Sean Agniel is ending a term as the provincial’s assistant for secondary and pre-secondary education for the U.S. Central and Southern Province. This summer he will begin working at St. Louis University High School as the advancement chief of staff.
Lord, grant that I may see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, and follow thee more nearly.
—St. Ignatius Loyola, The Spiritual Exercises