Daily Reflection
July 12th, 1999
Linda Wood
Student, Christian Spirituality Program
Exodus 1:8-14, 22
Matthew 10:34--11:1
Today we hear hard words from Jesus.  He tells the disciples that the peace they had anticipated the Messiah would bring, is not to be.  In fact, the truth is that not only will we be pitted against one another, but our enemies will be those in our own home, in our own family.

So much for “family values”!  The Roman contemporaries of the Matthean community thought so, too; for Christians were known for clinging to their belief in this man from Nazareth even when it meant exclusion and rejection from their families, imprisonment or a horrible death.  In fact, one of the arguments the Roman pagans used against Christianity was that it was “anti-family”; and it seems that these verses would prove that to be true.

This puzzling passage used to trouble me, for it certainly painted a picture of the Christian life that I would prefer not to see.  But I came to a new understanding of it a few days ago as I walked around the zoo with my son.

“Mom, who do you love best -- God or me?” queried eight year-old Skyler.  “Oh, wow,” I thought.  Sibling rivalry is a big issue in our home these days, and now it had morphed into this!  But I took a deep breath and listened for a moment to the crashing ocean waves in a display nearby.  And then, I had an answer -- the only truthful answer that I could give my son.

“Well, Skyler, I love you both.”  (A look of slight disappointment -- Mom is going to cop out of this one.)  “But the truth of the matter is, that loving God helps me to love you more.”  (Skeptical here -- what is she saying?)  “The love that I feel for God fills my heart, and gives me more love for you.”  (A little giggle.)

“You know how I ‘lost it’ yesterday when we were fishing and you kicked over your drink?”  (Yes -- it’s still very clear for this sensitive guy.)  “When I ‘lose it,’ it’s because I forget about God.  When I remember God’s love for me, and when I remember to love God back, I can have a lot more patience, and I can see what’s really important, and I can love you a lot more.”  (A bigger giggle.  A smile.  A hug.)

“I love you, Mom.”  “I love you, too.”

Jesus’ words couldn’t have been too harsh.  For at the end of this passage, we can see that a child has wandered up to the Teacher, perhaps an eight year-old boy with a question to be answered.  And Jesus reminds us that loving and caring for God and for one another are really all that matters:  “If anyone gives so much as a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple, then in truth I tell you, he will most certainly not go without his reward.”

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