“Jesus said to them, ‘No prophet is without honor except in his native place, indeed in his own house.’ ” —Matthew 13:57
We as Christians expect Herod (Mt 14:1ff), Hitler, and Planned Parenthood to be our enemies. We may be surprised when our own religious leaders attack and reject us (see Mt 12:1ff). And we are usually shocked when our hometown folk, even our own family, reject and persecute us (see Mt 13:57). We understand the lament of the psalmist: “If an enemy had reviled me, I could have borne it; if he who hates me had vaunted himself against me, I might have hidden from him. But you, my other self, my companion and my bosom friend! You, whose comradeship I enjoyed; at whose side I walked in procession in the house of God!” (Ps 55:13-15)
We Christians are often our own worst enemies. When we Christians are “hit close to home,” we are hit hard. Therefore, we must arm ourselves with the mentality that we will suffer in the flesh (1 Pt 4:1), even from those closest to us. Jesus made it clear that “a man’s enemies” would be “those of his own household” (Mt 10:36). Jesus said: “You will be delivered up even by your parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and some of you will be put to death. All will hate you because of Me” (Lk 21:16-17). All who even want “to live a godly life in Christ Jesus” will be persecuted (2 Tm 3:12), possibly by their families.
When we hear this sobering news of persecution on the home front, we should rejoice that we have been chosen to be like Jesus by sharing in His sufferings.
Prayer: Father, send the Holy Spirit to teach me how to share in Christ’s sufferings by being formed into the pattern of His death (Phil 3:10).
Promise: “I am the Resurrection and the Life.”—Jn 11:19
Praise: St. Martha believed in Jesus, the Resurrection and the Life. She exercised both her gift of hospitality and her ability to trust in the Lord.
Martha and Mary were sisters, related not only by blood but also by religious aspirations. They stayed close to our Lord and both served him harmoniously when he was among them. Martha welcomed him as travellers are welcomed. But in her case, the maidservant received her Lord, the invalid her Saviour, the creature her Creator, to serve him bodily food while she was to be fed by the Spirit. For the Lord willed to put on the form of a slave, and under this form to be fed by his own servants, out of condescension and not out of need. For this was indeed condescension, to present himself to be fed; since he was in the flesh he would indeed be hungry and thirsty.Our Lord’s words teach us that though we labour among the many distractions of this world, we should have but one goal. For we are but travellers on a journey without as yet a fixed abode; we are on our way, not yet in our native land; we are in a state of longing, not yet of enjoyment. But let us continue on our way, and continue without sloth or respite, so that we may ultimately arrive at our destination.
Thus was the Lord received as a guest who came unto his own and his own received him not; but as many as received him, he gave them the power to become sons of God, adopting those who were servants and making them his brothers, ransoming the captives and making them his co-heirs. No one of you should say: “Blessed are they who have deserved to receive Christ into their homes!” Do not grieve or complain that you were born in a time when you can no longer see God in the flesh. He did not in fact take this privilege from you. As he says: Whatever you have done to the least of my brothers, you did to me.
But you, Martha, if I may say so, are blessed for your good service, and for your labours you seek the reward of peace. Now you are much occupied in nourishing the body, admittedly a holy one. But when you come to the heavenly homeland will you find a traveller to welcome, someone hungry to feed, or thirsty to whom you may give drink, someone ill whom you could visit, or quarrelling whom you could reconcile, or dead whom you could bury?
No, there will be none of these tasks there. What you will find there is what Mary chose. There we shall not feed others, we ourselves shall be fed. Thus what Mary chose in this life will be realised there in all its fullness; she was gathering fragments from that rich banquet, the Word of God. Do you wish to know what we will have there? The Lord himself tells us when he says of his servants, Amen, I say to you, he will make them recline and passing he will serve them.
|“The reign of God is also like a dragnet thrown into the lake, which collected all sorts of things.” —Matthew 13:47|
|What is your favorite parable? Many people especially like the first of the kingdom-parables, the parable of the sower and the seed, which is better named the parable of the types of ground. The parables of the mustard seed and the precious pearl are always favorites. Yet how many claim that the parable of the dragnet is their favorite? Nonetheless, the parable of the dragnet is the grand finale of the kingdom-parables in Matthew’s Gospel. It is the last word. Thus, the kingdom-parables end on this ominous note: “That is how it will be at the end of the world. Angels will go out and separate the wicked from the just and hurl the wicked into the fiery furnace, where they will wail and grind their teeth” (Mt 13:49-50).
This is not a happy ending, but it is the ending the Lord wants. The Lord calls us to conversion, to accept Him as Savior, Lord, and God on His terms. We must say and live: “I have been crucified with Christ, and the life I live now is not my own; Christ is living in me. I still live my human life, but it is a life of faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal 2:19-20). Only those who “live no longer for themselves, but for” Jesus will be saved (2 Cor 5:15). All others will be hurled “into the fiery furnace, where they will wail” (Mt 13:50) in “eternal ruin apart from the presence of the Lord” (2 Thes 1:9).
The dragnet has been thrown into the lake. It is being pulled toward you. It is getting closer. Cry out for Jesus, for “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rm 10:13).
|Prayer: Father, may I end in love and not in hell.|
|Promise: “Indeed, like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in My hand.” —Jer 18:6|
|Praise: Sarah had a difficult husband but she was at peace when she realized that when she served him, she served Jesus.|