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It's what we do

The idea of sacrifice has a bad rap. We hear the word and we already feel hard done by. However, there is a lot to be said for sacrifice. In the first of today’s readings, we see how, by sacrificing some space in their home to Elisha, great blessings were gained for the couple who lived on the way to Shunem.  

In our everyday lives, there are blessings to be found in sacrifice. For example, in order to study at Te Kupenga while working full-time, I sacrifice many hours at the weekend; the state of the weeds in our garden is shocking. However, what I am gaining in terms of knowledge and understanding through that study is absolutely worth it, and I will get to the weeds when I can.

How much time and money have I sacrificed for my youngest, Matilda, to learn ballet? No fancy holidays for us during the ‘dance mom’ years. Yet, every minute spent sitting in my car outside a dance studio, and every cent spent on lessons and hairpins, became utterly worth it when I watched her perform on stage. Not to mention what she gained in discipline, confidence and self-esteem.

It’s just what we do for our children.

Thankfully, Matilda has swapped ballet for soccer, which is considerably cheaper. Now we sacrifice our Saturday mornings, standing in muddy fields yelling at eleven-year-olds like they’re medieval entertainment. It’s so much fun. And all that ballet has made her a brilliant goalkeeper.

When we are baptised, we experience the sacrifice Jesus made for us on the Cross. “We went into the tomb with him and joined him in death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the father’s glory, we too might live a new life.” Romans 6:3-4 We enter the water of baptism and are resurrected a new creature when we emerge. We are changed by the experience, and we are reborn a child of Christ.

In the Gospel reading, Jesus describes a discipleship that sounds as if it is too much to ask. “…if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine.” Matt 10:37

What does Jesus mean here? It is difficult to imagine putting Jesus before Matilda. I need to consider the words carefully, and remember that God sacrificed his son for me.

All I can do as a parent is make sure that Matilda is as much a child of God as I am. She was baptised as soon as possible; I am teaching her the values taught by Jesus in the Gospels; I try my hardest to model the behaviour of a Christian; I take her to Mass.  

I wonder if Jesus is trying to say something about good parenting, too. Whilst we make sacrifices for our children, it is important to their health and development that we don’t make them the absolute centre of our lives. As a teacher, I’ve seen the results of over-indulgent parents, and those children are by far the hardest to reach. Of course, our children are a priority, but we can’t change the world to suit them. That isn’t realistic, and trying to do so becomes destructive to the child and everyone around them.

Jesus is saying that he should be at the centre of our lives. In fact, he’s saying we have to give our lives to him. What does that look like?  If Jesus is at the heart of everything we do, then everything we do is righteous, and loving. (If you succeed in this, please tell me how).

Our children can only benefit from having parents who put Jesus first. Discipleship is not just for the blessings we receive, but also for the blessings received by everyone we meet, and everyone we love.

It’s just what we do for our children.

Today's readings: 2Kings 4:8-11,14-16   Psalm 88   Romans 6:3-4, 8-11     Matthew 10:37-42

Source: Thirteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

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