Wednesday of the Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time
(Nehemiah 2:1-8; Luke 9:57-62)
Giovanni Bernadone’s father opposed his vocation to a holy life. Giovanni only wanted to live simply and dedicate himself to the Lord by works of charity and reparation of churches. To do so, however, he had to forsake his family and did so by making a spectacle of the separation in the town square. Before long, Giovanni Bernadone was recognized as the holiest person of his time and is still revered as such today. Only, we know him as St. Francis of Assisi.
St. Francis’ priority of Christ before father and mother illustrates the gospel message today. But it pulls in the opposite direction of the first reading. Nehemiah’s desire to return to Jerusalem where the bones of his ancestors are buried bespeaks strong allegiance to the family.
Ideally, the claims of one’s family correspond with the demands of God’s kingdom. But where the two conflict, Jesus insists that we follow the kingdom’s lead.