The Gospel According to Matthew – 2017.07.02
The Way of Faith
Faith and the rewards of faith must not be constructed in transactional terms.
Faith is trust, it is the simple belief that things we hope for will come true.
Christian faith is rooted in the hope for and belief that we can live in a just society, one founded in love, exhibiting mercy, and which cares for all people, both the insider and the outsider.
There are many circumstances in which a Christian may be called to reject the structure of their family, or their culture, if those structures are unjust they should be rejected, and we cannot simply hold onto them because our parents lived unjustly or because we are concerned for the inheritance of our children.
Matthew speaks truly when he speaks to this point, but the point he makes in this Gospel reading requires further exposition than he makes here.
A Christian is not called to reject their family for the sake of rejecting their family, they are called to walk away from their family if an only if their family is engaged in the institutionalization and promotion of injustice.
Matthew goes too far when he suggests that all people must make the commitment, a commitment unto death, for the sake of their faith.
Not every Christian will be called to this.
Salvation is not transactional. Faith and the rewards of faith are not transactional.
Remember Saint Peter, he rejected Jesus, he denied him three times on the night Jesus was arrested. Peter was frightened, but he was not a coward when he refused to follow Jesus to the cross. After Jesus was killed he continued the ministry, his faith led him through the rest of his days.
The rewards of faith are not transactional they are emergent. Trust engenders trust, love love, hope hope. One does not purchase the other, but rather grows from it like the seedling from seed, where the whole is contained in the part, and the potential is infinite.
Welcome the prophet, welcome the holy person, and just as important, welcome the sinners, the outcasts, your persecutor.
This is the way of Jesus, and the way of faith.
Jesus instructed the Twelve as follows:
‘Anyone who prefers father or mother to me is not worthy of me. Anyone who prefers son or daughter to me is not worthy of me. Anyone who does not take his cross and follow in my footsteps is not worthy of me. Anyone who finds his life will lose it; anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.
‘Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me; and those who welcome me welcome the one who sent me.
‘Anyone who welcomes a prophet will have a prophet’s reward; and anyone who welcomes a holy man will have a holy man’s reward.
‘If anyone gives so much as a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple, then I tell you solemnly, he will most certainly not lose his reward.’
13th Sunday in Ordinary Time