Daily Reflection
July 11th, 2005

Sue Crawford

Department of Political Science and International Studies
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

Memorial of St. Benedict
Exodus 1:8-14, 22
Psalm 124:1b-3, 4-6, 7-8
Matthew 10:34—11:1

"Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one's enemies will be those of his household.”

These words of Jesus strike us as strange coming from a teacher who emphasizes love and reconciliation so strongly. We’re taught elsewhere that loving our neighbor is the second most important commandment.

We learn that we have responsibilities to forgive and to reconcile as part of our covenant relationship with a loving God (forgive us as we forgive others; go first and be reconciled and then come back with your gift; the parable of the king and the unforgiving servant). The words from Jesus strike me today as a warning from Jesus that our life as a follower will still be fraught with difficulty and that we should not assume otherwise. While we have the help of the Lord, as the Psalm reminds us, and ultimate hope in victory to cheer us and strengthen us, we nonetheless have to deal with tragedy and pain. Moreover, harm or pain may come from those closest to us and doing what Jesus calls us to do may make it even more likely that we experience such conflicts.

Ultimately, we’re challenged to submit all of our relationships and all of our efforts to provide for our security (work, investments, and homes) to the higher purpose of serving God.

If any of these becomes our ultimate security, then we lose our lives as God intended us to live them. However, if we’re willing to submit it all, to “lose our lives for His sake,” then we’ll find real life. The rewards are great, even for small acts of obedience such as providing hospitality. However, Jesus warns us, acceptance and approval of others (even those closest to us and even those with good intentions) is not one of the guaranteed rewards. We may well be called to make hard choices, even to push our families or spouses to make hard choices when it would be easier to let things be. This does not downplay the importance of working for reconciliation, but reminds us that the most important thing is to obey Christ’s call in our lives. Ignoring that call to instead do what a parent or spouse wants us to do (or what job security demands we do) may create peace in the household for a time, but ultimately then we lose our life – in terms of losing our opportunity to follow a calling from which we were created, and in terms of losing intimacy in our relationship with Jesus. This teaching is made all the more difficult for those of us in relationships with other Christians because we know that discernment can come from our relationships – so it is not the case that all objections to our ideas by others should be dismissed as distractions. It is also the case that our call to serve may well include spending considerable time and attention serving those in our household.

Losing our life for Christ’s sake doesn’t mean that we’re called to abandon those responsibilities. However, we must be willing to do so if necessary. I’m always challenged to consider my priorities when I think of Hannah giving up Samuel, of the sacrifices of missionary friends, and the family sacrifices of many who work for justice. We must be ever vigilant in prayer – thanking God for the blessings that our families and relationships provide, working for reconciliation, asking for guidance, and being open to responses that may shake things up.

Click on the link below to send an e-mail response
to the writer of this reflection.
Let Your Friends Know About This Reflection By Sending Them An E-mail


Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook