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


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. Does Jesus say we should not love our mums and dads? We love our parents very much. Does he not ask too much if he says we must love him more than we love our parents?

Jesus is Jewish. He grew up reading and listening to the scriptures. He knows that God tells 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 ten commandments that God gives to Moses. God gives Moses these "ways of being" with God and with each other so that people can 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.

Of the ten commandments, honouring our parents 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, perhaps he is making a great statement about who he is. God first.

This might remind us, too, of the time when someone asks Jesus 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.

Perhaps we can only truly love others if we love God.

How do we even know how to love truly? 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 does Jesus say this to the disciples? And what does it mean for us?

Possibly, some of the disciples do not have things in the right order. Jesus sends them out to build the Kingdom of God, but some of them may cling to their homes. It is time for them to go to be prophets to the world, but they may think that they have other, more important responsibilities. 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 do not. Be a partner with him, work together with him,

"take up the cross and follow"

or do not. Our choice.

If we first choose to follow,

to work as a partner with him,

to build the Kingdom of God,

then we begin by honouring our mother and father.

We put 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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