Three things jump out at me in today’s Gospel, which is taken from chapter 10 of St. Matthew’s Gospel.
(1) God’s sense of humor.
Today is the 18th anniversary of my becoming engaged to Maureen, so I find it very amusing that in today’s Gospel Our Lord would say, “I have come to bring not peace but the sword. For I have come to set . . . a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”
A little piece of Suprenant family trivia: I actually was waiting for the next Marian feast day to propose, which was July 16th, Our Lady of Mount Carmel. However, that feast fell on a Monday that year, so I proposed the preceding Saturday. (Hey, if the Church can move the Ascension to Sunday . . .)
And, joking aside, my wife’s care for my mother in her old age and infirmity has been most edifying to me and a tremendous witness to our children.
(2) The lost life.
Our Lord gives us the paradox that if we truly want to be happy, if we truly want to live, then we will lose our lives for His sake. In this teaching we find, among other things, a wonderful catechesis on the deadly sin of greed (aka avarice, covetousness), which is a disordered love of getting and possessing.
Greed involves a failure to trust in Our Heavenly Father’s goodness, so we seek security in worldly realities, rather than in God alone. But a security built on worldly realities is a security built on sand, not solid rock. Or, as today’s saint, Blessed Kateri, might say: “You can’t Tekakwitha when you die.” (Sorry about that!)
(3) The prophet’s reward.
We also hear in today’s Gospel that whoever hears the Apostles (and thus their successors) hears Christ Himself, which is a commonly cited biblical support for the perennial teaching regarding the apostolicity of the Church and all that entails. But there’s more here. When we support the Church and her leaders, we are supporting Christ Himself, and when we support the work of our bishops, missionaries, and the like, we share in their “reward.” In other words, just as formal cooperation with sin makes us guilty for the sin, so also such formal cooperation with the mission of the Church fully makes us partners in the “new evangelization.”