Pointing at the bulletin letter's date (link) at left will display it's title.
August 19, 2007
What is Most Important In Life?There is probably not one person among us that has not had the experience of asking ourselves what, if anything, is most important in our lives. There are many occasions that present themselves over the years when we are faced with dilemmas involving choices we need to make. The fact that we are left to reflect on these choices is most probably a gift from God. No doubt this is an opportunity for us to come to the realization that yes, in deed, there are some things that more important than others.
This week’s Gospel brings up an important dilemma for the people in Jesus’ day. Jesus tells the people that he has not come to establish peace but rather to bring division even among family members. Luke proceeds to list all possible members of the family and the possible divisions thus making it evident that Jesus is attempting to send a very clear message.
Jesus was well schooled in the importance of family relations. It is important for us to understand that his culture held family relations as primary in all facet of life. One’s loyalty to the family was primary. One’s personal identity was closely linked to one’s place within the family. Family ties, family honor and family obligations were primary in Jesus’ culture. This key factor in the people’s lives made it an excellent target for the message he wanted to make. The message was that even family was not to replace the importance of God in their lives. Although that message may be somewhat lost on 21st century Americans, it was a very pointed message for 1st century Jews living in the Middle East.
What would Jesus use as his target today? Although we all appreciate our family life, it is clear that family relations, especially extended family, are probably not our primary obligation. This becomes clear when we are invited to parties or weddings or even when there is a funeral. For the most part many of us make some effort to participate in important family functions but if something should stand in the way we do not feel obliged to split ourselves in half. We simply excuse ourselves and choose our previous commitment. What then could Jesus target?
For 21st century Americans, could it be that work has taken over as primary? How many of us feel justified in using our work as a perfectly legitimate excuse for not being with family in times of sorrow or special occasions of celebration? And how many of us feel that work is also a legitimate excuse for not attending weekend liturgies even when there are a number of Masses both on Saturday and Sunday in neighboring parishes.
This week’s message is very hard to swallow. We need to sit back and take a deep breath if we are to be able to take it seriously or, as we often say, take it to heart. We need to be honest with ourselves without being defensive. This is not a matter of being accusatory. It is a matter of seeing ourselves in Truth.
Is God first in your life? If not, why not? If not, perhaps it is something we must “work” on. Balance is key. Are we up to this challenge?
Lorette P. Nault