Monday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
(Isaiah 1:10-17; Matthew 10:34-11:1)
In the Middle East where Christians still live among Muslims, it is not unusual for Muslims to challenge Christians about our belief that God is both one and three. “This is contradictory,” the Muslims would say. We Christians, of course, are not without answers. Our responses generally restate the great theological declarations of the fourth century that the Father, the Son, and Spirit share the same divinity with distinct, although not individual, personhoods. In the gospel proclamation today we find Scriptural basis for our stand that Jesus is one with the Father.
First and foremost, Jesus speaks with divine authority. Who but God would dare to say that anyone who “loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me”? Even a fool would allow some slack for family before claiming personal allegiance. Jesus, however, knowing himself to be divine can demand utmost loyalty. Second, Jesus states that anyone who accepts one of his apostles, accepts him just as anyone who accepts him, accepts the Father who sent him. It is not strange to say that to accept an ambassador with credentials from an earthly leader, accepts the leader. But it is brazen to make the same equation between oneself and God without divine testimony. It may be that Jesus is simply deluded, but the gospels show him to be very much in touch with reality. We conclude then that Jesus is as he indicates, God.
Acknowledging Jesus as God implies compliance with his teaching. We take up our cross and follow him without grumbling, much less rebellion. Likewise, we assist the “little ones,” the poor, whom Mother Teresa recognized as “Jesus in disguise.”