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13th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Ages 6-9): The Right Order of Loving

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

  • 6-9 year olds

(Adults, begin by reading the Gospel aloud to the child, unless the child is a very fluent reader.)

Last Sunday, when we heard Jesus preparing his disciples to go out to teach about the Kingdom of God, we thought about the right order of things. First, Jesus speaks and we listen. Then, we go out to tell the world what we have heard. In this way, we are prophets. This week Jesus continues to prepare his disciples to go out as prophets, and again he speaks about the right order of things.

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Is Jesus saying we should not love our mums and dads? We love our parents very much. Is it not too much to ask that we love Jesus more than we love our parents?

Jesus is Jewish. He grew up reading and listening to the scriptures. He knows that God told Moses,

Honour your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. (Exodus 20:12)

This is one of the 10 commandments that God gave to Moses. God gave Moses these "ways of being" with each other and with God so that people could live the way God wants them to live. Jesus knows this. He knows that honouring our parents is how we show that we love them. Jesus himself honours Mary and Joseph.

Honouring our parents is the 4th commandment. Of the ten, it is the first commandment that speaks about other people besides God. We can say that, except for God, our parents are the first people to whom we show love.

Except for God...

God first, then our parents. "Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me..." When Jesus says this, I wonder if he is making a great statement about who he is? God first.

This reminds me, too, of the time Jesus is asked which is the greatest commandment, and he replies,

‘you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ (Mark 12:30)

and then he adds,

And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ (Mark 12:31)

There is an order to loving. God first, then others.

It makes me think that we can only truly love others if we love God.

How do we even know how to love? Who gives us the ability to love?

The One who is Love.

When we love, we are like God. We could say that when we love, it is actually God loving in us.

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me

So why is Jesus saying this to the disciples? And what does it mean for us?

It is possible that some of the disciples do not have things in the right order. Jesus is sending them out to build the Kingdom of God, but some of them may be clinging to their homes. It is time for them to go to be prophets to the world, but they may be thinking that they have other responsibilities that are more important. They need to make a choice. Will they live as God calls them to live? Will they build the Kingdom of God in the way God asks them to?

For children growing up in their homes, though, it is not time to go out, is it? So what can this say for us? Can we still be prophets in our homes?

Jesus gives us all a choice, whoever we are. Build the Kingdom or don't. Be a partner with him, work together with him,

"take up the cross and follow"

or don't. It's our choice.

If we first choose to follow, to work as a partner with him, to build the Kingdom of God,

then we can begin by honouring our mother and father.

We are putting things in the right order. Love God. Love neighbour.

We can honour our mother and father--or whoever takes care of us--by serving them. By listening to them. By realizing that God loves them as crazily as God loves us. That God knows sometimes they make poor choices, just like we do, but that God wants to welcome them back. Just like God welcomes us back every time we realize we have wandered away. We can love them as God loves us.

In this way we can be prophets in our own homes. By first listening to God, and then honouring the ones who care for us.

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