“He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:37-38)
In the worship of God, there are a lot of things we can do to show him our love and devotion. However, there is worship that is acceptable and one that is not. Now, what is that offering or worship that God rejects? It is the type that does not proceed from the heart; it is a worship that treats God as though he were an object; it is worship that bears no relationship with how we live our day-to-day life outside the church.
Isaiah in today’s first reading tells us how much God abhors the sacrifices we present in the name of worship. By referring to the people of Israel as Sodom and Gomorrah, God is drawing their attention to their abominable sins of immorality and indecency. God is saying: “What is the point behind your many sacrifices of bulls and rams when there is so much iniquity in your midst?”
This is the kind of worship that makes sense to God. When I make myself clean but, in my heart, and in action, when I cease to do evil and learn to do good instead, when I work for justice, correct oppression, defend the orphans and plead for the widow. All these things surprisingly cannot be done inside the church. That means that my worship begins at home, in my dealings with my colleagues at work, and in how I live my life.
I dare not expect everyone to support me or become my friend but no matter what, I must always put God first. I would rather incur the wrath of even my best friend than offend God. No wonder Jesus says in the Gospel passage: “I have not come to bring peace, but rather a sword… a man against his father, daughter against mother, and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law and so on.
Then, as if to tell us how serious he is, Jesus warns: “He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” That is to say, if I want to serve God, I should not mind losing even the closest persons to me should they become a source of distraction or temptation to me. My losing them becomes a cross I carry for sake of my faith. Jesus even adds: “He who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”
I have seen where a mother tried to lure her own daughter into prostitution all because of money. This is just one example out of many where Jesus calls us to put him first even if it means losing a relationship as close as that between a mother and daughter. To be a Christian is not easy. No wonder there are so many persons who claim to be Christian only by mouth but are not true to what they call themselves.
Let us pray: Almighty ever-living God, may my worship of you reflect first and foremost in my lifestyle. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
( Bible Study: Isaiah 1:10-17, Ps. 50:8-9,16-17,21,23, Matthew 10:34-11:1).
© Rev. Fr. Evaristus Abu