In today’s First Reading the Lord teaches us that devotion to him is pointless when we don’t show a level of devotion to others and their needs: he wants us to treat others justly and compassionately when they are in need. In the Gospel Our Lord takes it a step further by reminding us that devotion to others at the expense of devotion to the Lord is also a losing proposition. In the First Reading the Lord reminds us of our obligations in general; in the Gospel we consider those whom we owe the most: our family.
If the Gospel talks about “hating” your loved ones it must be understood in the context of the entire discourse: family members who do not welcome the Lord through his prophets or through righteous people. In short, loved ones who have fallen into sin and present a danger of leading us into sin as well. Not all family members are an obstacle to our devotion to the Lord, but if our devotion to our family exceeds our devotion to the Lord, we’re on the path to perdition, despite the best of intentions. We owe the Lord and our family everything, but the Lord comes first.
Let’s pray that our loved ones grow in devotion to Our Lord, confident that following the Lord, even when it implies the cross, will be a blessing to our family.
Readings: Isaiah 1:10–17; Psalm 50:8–9, 16b–17, 21, 23; Matthew 10:34–11:1. See also 31st Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 29th Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday, and 15th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday.