Fr Thomas’ Reflection for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Faith Family Over Natural Family!

Faith is everything, isn’t it?  ‘Have faith in yourself, you can do it!’   In this expression, faith means confidence.  But the Gospel of Matthew is speaking about a different kind of faith. It is not about self-confidence.   Faith is the personal commitment to Jesus.  For a disciple of Jesus, nothing can substitute the total allegiance to Jesus as your saviour and Lord.  It requires preferring God over even your own family.  There is also a background to this Gospel teaching.

After the fall of Jerusalem to Romans in 70AD, the Jews felt their religion threatened and they were scattered.  Christians were mostly converts from Judaism and they were faced with hostility by their Jewish counterpart.  This caused tensions in families where some were converts and others remained Jews.  In such a situation Matthew offers some direction.  He reminds them what Jesus said, “Anyone who prefers father or mother to me is not worthy of me.  Anyone who prefers son or daughter to me is not worthy of me.  Anyone who does not take his cross and follow in my footsteps is not worthy of me.  Anyone who finds his life will lose it; anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Mt 10:37-39).  Though it appears to be asking one to hate his family, it does not mean that.  The Aramaic language Jesus spoke did not have the nuance of comparative expressions like ‘love MORE’.  Therefore, Jesus uses the expression, ‘hate your family’ to mean prefer God over your family.  No amount of social and political pressures should fail you in giving God the first place in your life, not even your family.  If God is given priority in your life over everyone and everything else, you will also be proactive in welcoming God’s people and offering them hospitality.  It will lead into a fellowship of the faithful.  Such faith family will bring God’s favour in your life, especially in times of need.