Christ vs. Family?

User’s Guide to Sunday, July 2

(photo: Pixabay)

Sunday, July 2, is the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Mass Readings: 2 Kings 4:8-11, 14-16; Psalm 89:2-3, 16-19; Romans 6:3-4, 8-11; Matthew 10:37-42.

There are two parts of today’s Gospel.

In the first half, Jesus says to love God more than your family. Then comes the part about receiving Christians as you receive Christ himself.

We are made for more than others, and they are made for more than us. We are made to be loved perfectly and forever — we are made for flawless goodness. We were made for the infinite God, and anything else is not enough.

And as soon as we realize that, the second half of the Gospel becomes the radical part.

“Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me,” says Jesus. This seems to contradict the first sentiment. How are we to receive a finite, flawed, imperfect human being the same way we receive the all-powerful God of heaven and earth?

St. Paul explains how. “Brothers and sisters, are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?” he says in today’s second reading. Therefore, you “must think of yourselves as dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus.”

He is saying that Christians have the dignity of the one they belong to: Jesus Christ.

It is because of this that Jesus says, “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.”

There is a paradox here: Don’t love your family more than Jesus Christ, because you must at all times remember that your family is not equal to God. But receive every Christian as you would receive Jesus Christ, because you must always remember that in Christ, we are all sharers in his divine life.

The paradox starts to make more sense if you see how it works in a story.

In the first reading, a woman of influence sees the prophet Elisha going by and gives him food and a place to stay. She treats him like a family member — showing the right understanding of God vs. family. Then a strange thing happens: The homeless prophet speaks to a servant as if his benefactor was the beggar and he was the benefactor. “Can something be done for her?” he asks, and then he acts.

We are all in her position. And if we treat Christ’s family as our family, we, too, will be blessed.


Tom Hoopes is writer in

residence at Benedictine College

in Atchison, Kansas.

He is the author of What

Pope Francis Really Said.