2020-06-2813th SundayRev. Msgr. Michael J. Motta, D.Min.

Some time ago I was talking to a class of high school students about the Mass. Many of them said that they did not understand the Scripture readings. I said you must mean the first and second readings that is the Old Testament and the New Testament readings. You cannot mean the Gospels, too. They are pretty self-explanatory. No, they said, the Gospels, too. I was surprised. But I also realized that we have to do more to teach the Scriptures and the faith. We have to do more talking and discussing our faith if we expect our teachings and our values to be passed on to the next generation. It would be great if we could use the media more effectively. So many times it seems the entertainment industry works against us.

I must admit though that today we have a Gospel, a teaching of Jesus, that is most difficult to understand. I struggled with its meaning all week as I tried to prepare this homily. I even studied several Scriptural commentaries to try to make sense out of this passage from Matthew`s Gospel.

Now, let us take another look at it in its historical setting. That, I think will help us to make some sense out of the opening lines: Jesus said to his apostles, "Whoever loves father or mother, son or daughter, more than me is not worthy of me." In the Early Church, people are being persecuted for believing and following what Jesus taught. If you believe in Jesus you will be faced with making some difficult decisions that may even involve your family. They may disagree with your faith and may make life more difficult for you. Yet, if you expect to be one of Jesus` followers, then you must make a choice to follow God`s way or not to follow God`s way.

But let`s face it. Persecution for following the way of the Lord is not one of the problems that we face today. It certainly would not affect our relationship with our family or would it?

Are there beliefs and values that are prevalent today that go contrary to God`s wishes? Values and beliefs sometimes that are advocated by members of our families. I think so. They are preached on a daily basis. You hear them so often, especially in the media, that they seem logical. They seem correct. But they go contrary to God`s wishes. Think! Keep asking yourself: How is what I am hearing measure up to what I read in the Bible. This would make for some great discussions in your family. Let me see if I can come up with just a few. Virginity is no longer a virtue. It is the wimp or the nerd who retains her or his virginity. For the past few years this message has been preached. But it goes contrary to what Jesus teaches.

I can hear people saying kids are having sex. You`ve got to make sure they take precautions or have protection. Having sex outside the context of marriage is contrary to what Jesus teaches. I know the agony that many parents experience when their sons or daughters decide that they are going to move in with someone else and are going to live together. The message of Jesus Christ is watered down when you hear people say: Well, it`s not so bad because they will be married in the future.

I was in an 8th grade class of religious education and we were having a lively discussion about different issues when one of the students whose parents come to Mass on a regular basis said: Well, I am pro-choice. I replied: Did you know that that positon goes contrary to what the Catholic religion teaches. She said "No, I did not. I asked the other students in the class. Did you know that. They said no.

I realize more than ever that there are many messages that are being preached today that are directly contrary to what Jesus taught. Sometimes we have to make some difficult decisions on behalf of the Lord. Sometimes those decisions may even go contrary to what members of our families say and teach. Let me go back to the original line from today`s Gospel. Jesus says "Whoever loves father or mother, son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me! It is not an easy message but how we measure up to what Jesus teaches is how we will be judged by Jesus when we die.

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