The Church is rich with stories of persons who gave up everything for God. Many of them gave up wealth, sacrificed their careers, and even their parents’ wishes in order to follow Christ.
In the Gospel during this Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Mt. 10: 37-42), Jesus says,
“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.”
At first, this sounds difficult but think this way: When you love God above all, you can easily love your parents, family, friends and others even more than yourself. You even go out of your way to help them. You are willing to sacrifice for them. Others give their lives for their loved ones and friends. When one loves God first, you can trust that person easily. For the single gentleman courting a lady who loves God first, you can be sure that this person is worth spending time the rest of your life. Similarly, if you are a parent with a daughter being courted by a gentleman who is devoted to the Lord, surely you are blessed having that person for a future son-in-law. He’ll build up a family who is loving, caring, and devoted to God above all.
However, when you say you love others without loving God first, your intentions may be inconsistent and superficial. Your profession of love may not be real and authentic. It is something that is shallow and temporary, even unwilling to sacrifice at a slight hint of difficulty. When tempted you can succumb to greed and selfishness. He is a person who doesn’t trust God enough to help him go through the difficult stages of life.
“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.”
When Mom and Dad were still here on earth, they were always finding time to look after the needs of our priests. They always initiated to visit, attend to what the Church needs and sacrifice their time in the service of God. They put God first and so while there were times we sort of missed them, we find comfort in knowing that they were in Church helping out. We understood that they were doing all these for the Lord, and we love them more for their fine example. There are lots of people silently helping God through His ordained ministers. They provide for His priests, supporting them with what they can in order to make their ministries succeed.
Putting God first involves listening to Him through prayer and reflection. He also talks to us through the people around us. Fr. Armand Robleza, SDB, said, “He who really listens because of love will hear even what is not being said. Only a loving heart will be able to hear what is not being said.”
How can we develop that ability to hear God so that we will be obedient and faithful to Him? Fr. Armand prescribes three disciplines:
- Discipline of Prayer. It isn’t enough to just pray. It must be a disciplined prayer, meaning it is consistent and is always on time. It isn’t seasonal. The true intention of prayer is not what you want, but what God wants for you. In that way, we become honest, sincere and open to the leadings of the Spirit.
- Discipline of Loving. It is about one’s readiness to give up everything for God. He is committed, focused, and willing to stand up for God.
- Discipline of Action or Effort.You can prove the sincerity of your prayer when you put it into action. Your love is real when you show and demonstrate that love with consistent and conscious effort.
Today, let us reflect on how God is in the order of things. Are we putting Him first above others? Are we listening to Him by creating and giving time for prayer and thanksgiving? Are we putting the discipline so that this becomes consistent and second nature?
Let us pray for wisdom for us to attune ourselves more to God and put Him first and at the center of our lives. Only then can we become committed followers of Christ and in so doing, become more loving, helping and caring persons for others.
“You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation;announce the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” (1 Pt. 2: 9)