Memorial of Saint Benedict, abbot
(Exodus 1: 8-14.22; Matthew 10:34-11:1)
A man tells the story of his daughter. When she was a teenager, she became pregnant outside marriage. She wanted to have her baby, but her mother encouraged her to have an abortion. For the elder woman, the girl was too young to take on the responsibilities of motherhood and needed to finish her education. The girl desperately turned to her father who was divorced from his wife. The man believed in his daughter and promised to help her keep her baby. Relieved, the girl said that she had bought a bus ticket to another town in case no one would support her at home. Whether she knows it or not, this girl is following Jesus’ instructions to his Apostles in today’s gospel.
It is not that Jesus has abortion in mind as he lectures his Apostles. Rather, he foresees that his way of life will bring opposition to his followers just as the Pharisees oppose him. When Jewish-Christians are ejected from synagogues in the late first century, some at least will be opposed by their strict Jewish parents. They will have to choose between Jesus and their families; between the eternal life he offers and the relative peace life of following family customs. It is not a desirable choice, but one whose selection is obvious.
Fortunately, most of us today do not have to choose between family and Christ. More often, the choice must be made between Christ and the desires of our own hearts. Will we follow common sexual impulses or will we refrain from pornography and contraception as the Church, Christ’s body and the keeper of his ways, ordains? Confronting these issues, we realize that Jesus does not bring the perpetual peace of mind that we may desire.