Jesus said to his apostles:
“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me,
and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;
and whoever does not take up his cross
and follow after me is not worthy of me.
Whoever finds his life will lose it,
and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
“Whoever receives you receives me,
and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.
Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet
will receive a prophet’s reward,
and whoever receives a righteous man
because he is a righteous man
will receive a righteous man’s reward.
And whoever gives only a cup of cold water
to one of these little ones to drink
because the little one is a disciple—
amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.”
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Jesus gives us a lot of hard teachings. As much as I long to follow him closely, I sometimes struggle with embracing what he encourages us to do. When he gives us instructions like he does in this Sunday’s Gospel, I find myself lovingly challenged to be a better disciple. We might thing Jesus is bold to say that if we love anyone more than him we don’t deserve him. Jesus is reminding us that to follow him, he has to be our first priority. We have to love him more than anyone or anything else in our lives. Although it might come off as harsh, he knows we can do it and he constantly encourages us. He always reminds us that we’re called to holiness. Sometimes we have to ask ourselves the tough questions. Is there anyone I love more than Jesus? Am I willing to take up my cross? We might have to wrestle with these questions and figure out what needs to be limited or eliminated from our lives. We can’t let anything prevent us from following him. We can emulate Jesus’ sacrificial love by putting our own wants aside to be a closer disciple of his.
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