PREPARING FOR THE WORD
Before you begin take a moment to pray, saying this short prayer by St. John Chrysostom or a prayer in your own words asking the Lord to open up your heart and mind to his Word.
O Lord Jesus Christ, open the eyes of my heart, that I may hear Your word and understand and do Your will.
Jesus said to his apostles:
"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 a righteous man
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 the little one is a disciple—
amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward."
For all of the readings for Sunday visit: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/070217.cfmâ��
REFLECTING ON THE WORD
Family bonds are among the most precious gifts in the world. Close family relationships create a bond of love, commitment and fidelity rarely surpassed in depth. Yet, as strong as family ties can be, Jesus reveals in our Gospel that there is another bond, another family tie, another allegiance, another love that must come first. Jesus Christ must take center and top place in our hearts. If anyone loves father or mother more than Jesus, they are not worthy of discipleship. If anyone loves son or daughter more than Jesus, they are not worthy of the Lord. Furthermore, Jesus states, “And he who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”
There are many interpretations and applications as to what it means to “take up ones cross and follow Jesus.” However, since the cross is a symbol of death, the most fundamental meaning is the death of the self that must accompany one’s full surrender and obedience to God.
“There is a boundary in life against which can be seen whether dedication is the act of the whole will. This boundary is death. He who in his daring option for God has also included the possible giving of his life has made a radical decision…The movement away from me – unto God finds its completion in this,” a willingness to die for the sake of Christ.
The grace and paradox of the radical decision for Christ above all is that in Christ we actually find our true self and our eternal family! There are many people throughout the world who are martyred for their faith in Jesus. These faithful disciples are willing to put love of Jesus above everything, above family, above self, above all!
PRAYING THE WORD