June 21, 2020
Revised Common Lectionary
Genesis 21:8-21 or Jeremiah 20:7-13
Psalm 86:1-10, 16-17 or Psalm 69:7-10 (11-15), 16-18
Lectionary for Mass (RC)
Psalm 69:8-10, 14-,17, 33-35 (14c)
During the Cold War following World War II, schoolchildren living in some Eastern European countries ruled by authoritarian governments were often encouraged to report their parents if they were surreptitiously listening to outside radio broadcasts. State authorities feared that people might be listening to programs that would undermine their power. Dividing families was used as a tactic to maintain tight control over daily life.
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus also speaks of dividing families; of bringing not peace, but a sword. He tells his followers that he has come to set children and parents against one another and warns them that they must choose him even over their own families. Many Christians undoubtedly cringe when they hear these words – especially on Father’s Day. Hey, Jesus, what happened to peace, unity, and family values?
These sayings need to be understood in the larger context of the reading, in which Jesus sets forth the total commitment required of disciples. Those who follow Jesus are to acknowledge him openly, even boldly. Yes, they will be mistreated in the same way that he was, and even their families will reject them. Following Jesus means risking everything – reputation, relationships, even life itself.
What does taking up the cross mean for us? What does it cost us to follow Jesus in this time and place? Jesus is not asking us to cast aside our fathers or other members of our family, but rather to put things in perspective. Do we embrace the way of Christ as the highest value of all? Are we willing to accept ridicule and rejection even from those closest to us when we advocate for our transgender siblings or offer assistance to migrant families?
Jesus assures us that we will not be alone as we face the scorn of others. Following Jesus is costly, but he promises that “those who lose their life for my sake will find it” (10:39).
God cares even for the sparrows, says Jesus, “so do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:31).
A Hymn for Today: “You Call to Us, Lord Jesus”
Joy F. Patterson, a life member of The Hymn Society and a Presbyterian hymn writer, composed this text that recounts both the joys and the sacrifices associated with following Jesus and taking up his mission.
You call to us, Lord, Jesus,
As once in Galilee
You called to James and Andrew,
“Come now and follow me.”
They left their nets and followed,
And did not look behind;
Lord, we like them will follow,
Our life in you to find.
You came to preach deliv’rance,
To set the captives free,
To heal the brokenhearted,
To make the sightless see.
Your ministry of mercy
And justice is our task;
Help us like true disciples
To do the work you ask.
You summon us to visions
Of what this world can be,
Of hope and peace and freedom
For all humanity.
For justice we will labor,
For ev’ry human soul,
Till greed and hatred vanish
And humankind is whole.
The path you bid us follow
Is not an easy road,
And doubt or pain or conflict
Will sometimes be our load.
Lord, grant us strength and courage
To walk the way you trod,
Till we behold in glory
The radiant face of God.
Text: Joy F. Patterson. © 1994, Hope Publishing Company. Used by permission.
Image Credit: Carrying the cross of Christ, Gabriel Loire, 1904-1996, St. Mary Cathedral, Aberdeen, Scotland
“Word and Song: A Lectionary Reflection” is written by the Executive Director of The Hymn Society, Rev. Dr. Mike McMahon. For his full bio, click here and scroll down to the “staff” section.