Gift Giver

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

Well, we have some unpacking to do on this one.

This week’s Gospel is a little hard to swallow on first hearing. Jesus, in a litany-like call and response tells us, “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” He continues on in this manner describing prophets and righteous people. It is a type of speaking that the ancient people of the Holy Land would have been familiar with.  It is important to remember what may seem tinny at best and simply horrific to our modern ears would have made sense to Jesus’ contemporaries. That’s not giving our Savior a pass; he is telling the truth when he says difficult things like “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.” It is our job to unpack that truth. Of course, he is right.  If we are bound to our earthly relationships, we can never fully surrender to our transcendental one with God, but that still isn’t very comforting.

Praying over the week’s scriptures helped me really enter deeply into what Jesus is telling us. I think he is saying two things. First, that the love of God for us is so vast, so immense and deep that we can’t begin to describe it. It is more powerful than the love of a mother and a child.  Surely, it can’t be that deep? we might ask. Jesus is saying it is even more powerful than that—beyond our limited earthly comprehension.

Second, I think the Lord is being tough on us, but he’s being real with us too. Of course we love our parents and our children, that is why he uses them in this example, but I think Jesus is saying that for a truly fulfilled life, God must come first. We can’t confuse the gift with the giver. What I mean is that while we may enjoy the birthday gift, we would never love it more than the parent or child who gave it to us, and perhaps Jesus is saying the same thing. Love your parents, children, friends and family, but don’t forget the God who gave them to you because as he references just in the next line, the cross of pain will be there and God will see you through it. When we lose that friend or family member, the immense, inexplicable, most mysterious power of God’s love will be there making us stronger than ever.

I’ll be seeing you,


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