In my last parish, there was an older women whowound up in a nursing home for the last ten years ofher life. She had a bad heart, but lived to be over 100years old. I visited her regularly. Each time I wouldgreet her she would ask, with her heavy Italianaccent, “How’s your mother?” Then she would go onto say, “Nobody loves you like your mother.” A fewtimes she told me about a conversation she had withher husband one day. He said to her, “I am yourhusband, I am number one in your life.” She said herresponse was, “No! No! My mother, she’s numberone in my life.
In the Gospel for today’s Mass (Matthew 10:37-42), what Jesus says reminded me of theconversation the older woman had with her husband:“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is notworthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughtermore than me is not worthy of me; and whoever doesnot take up his cross and follow after me is notworthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, andwhoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” IsJesus number one in our lives?
Before we even think about that question we needto understand where Jesus is coming from. As far asJesus is concerned, we are number one in His life.St. Paul’s words ring loud and clear: “God proves hislove for us in that while we were still sinners Christdied for us.” (Romans 5:8) We are so important toJesus that He gave His life on the cross to save usfrom our sins and their consequences even beforewe repent. Even more He wants us to be one withHim in His unity with the Father and Holy Spirit. Thisunion begins as we are Baptized in the Name of theFather, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Hisunion with us also gives us the love, concern, andintercession of His mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Our unity with Jesus is not meant to make us religiousfanatics, but to inspire, encourage, and enable us to loveour mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, children and allpeople entrusted to us as He loves us. To be loved byJesus and to accept that love makes it impossible not tolove others as He loves us. As much as His love is givento each one of us personally, it is not exclusive. His lovecannot help but to enable us to love inclusively.
I conclude with the prayer below that I pray every day.For me it sets the tone for each day and is a great sourceof encouragement and inspiration. This prayer opens mymind and heart to see how I am called to live the words ofthe Our Father: “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done onearth as it is in heaven.”
Gracious God, we are your people
embraced by your love.
We thank you for your presence
with us throughout all time.
Create us anew.
Liberate us from that which keeps us from you.
Enable us to recreate our world and restore justice.
Heal us from every form of sin and violence.
Transform us to live your Word more profoundly.
Reconcile us so enemies become friends.
Awaken us to the sacred; nurture our relationships.
Enliven our parishes; reunite our families.
Fill us with joy to celebrate the fullness of life.
Empower us to be a community of love
growing in your likeness. Amen.
The more Jesus is number one in our lives, the more wewant to live out this prayer every day.BACK TO LIST