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Loving Beyond the Approval of Others

Memorial of Saint Benedict, Abbot

First Reading: Isaiah 1:10-17

Hear the word of the LORD,
princes of Sodom!
Listen to the instruction of our God,
people of Gomorrah!
What care I for the number of your sacrifices?
says the LORD.
I have had enough of whole-burnt rams
and fat of fatlings;
In the blood of calves, lambs and goats
I find no pleasure.

When you come in to visit me,
who asks these things of you?
Trample my courts no more!
Bring no more worthless offerings;
your incense is loathsome to me.
New moon and sabbath, calling of assemblies,
octaves with wickedness: these I cannot bear.
Your new moons and festivals I detest;
they weigh me down, I tire of the load.
When you spread out your hands,
I close my eyes to you;
Though you pray the more,
I will not listen.
Your hands are full of blood!
Wash yourselves clean!
Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes;
cease doing evil; learn to do good.
Make justice your aim: redress the wronged,
hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 50:8-9, 16BC-17, 21 AND 23

R. (23b) To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
“Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you,
for your burnt offerings are before me always.
I take from your house no bullock,
no goats out of your fold.”
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
“Why do you recite my statutes,
and profess my covenant with your mouth,
Though you hate discipline
and cast my words behind you?”
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
“When you do these things, shall I be deaf to it?
Or do you think you that I am like yourself?
I will correct you by drawing them up before your eyes.
He that offers praise as a sacrifice glorifies me;
and to him that goes the right way I will show the salvation of God.”
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.

Gospel: Matthew 10:34-11:1

Jesus said 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.

“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 his cross
and follow after me is not worthy of me.
Whoever finds his life will lose it,
and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

“Whoever receives you receives me,
and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.
Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet
will receive a prophet’s reward,
and whoever receives a righteous man
because he is righteous
will receive a righteous man’s reward.
And whoever gives only a cup of cold water
to one of these little ones to drink
because he is a disciple–
amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.”

When Jesus finished giving these commands to his Twelve disciples,
he went away from that place to teach and to preach in their towns.

NAB

DEV_JU11

When the Christian faith is passionately lived out it looks beautiful. When love of the Blessed Trinity fills us to overflowing it is beautiful. When people see holiness we are attracted to it because it. is. beautiful.

But sometimes we meet people who cannot find beauty in any of it. Sometimes when we live out our faith with great joy, love, and humility people turn away from us, treating us like we are marred. This is where today’s Gospel comes in.

“I have not come to bring peace but the sword.”

It can be incredibly painful and lonely when we come to believe and are convinced that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God, because with that conviction we now have to act. Choices and beliefs we once were satisfied with no longer sit well. Our lives look different because we are different. It is true that some loved ones will accompany us as we grow closer to God, but some will not. Some will resent us; some will gossip about us; some will dislike us very much. Even our parents, siblings, friends, and even the people sitting next to us at Mass.

It can be a temptation to dwell on that pain, as it can be a temptation to try to win everyone’s approval, but that is not what Christ wants of us. We must love God more than we love the approval and love of others. We must trust that these pains are crosses He is inviting us to take up as we follow Him.

Jesus is not giving us permission to cut people out of our lives with anger, but He is telling us that just because we have upset people does not mean we are “doing it wrong.” In fact, we may be doing it exactly right.

Pray for the people who have hurt you and leave the pain and those broken relationships with Christ.

photo credit

Bonnie Engstrom is a writer, baker, speaker and homemaker. She lives with her husband and six children in central Illinois. You can find out more about her here.

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