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Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Ex. 1:8-14, 22 & Mt. 10:34-11.1

Today we begin reading the book of Exodus from the Old Testament which describes the providential events that form the foundation of Israel as God's chosen people.

Why is the Church so attached to the Old Testament and especially the book of Exodus? The basic reason is that the God of Israel is the God of Christians: there are not two Gods, one for the Jews of the past and one for us today as Catholics. We must remember that Jesus did not come to destroy the past but to bring it to fulfilment.

God's providential movements in the history of the chosen people are important to us in the Christian era. Pope Pius XI pointed out that we are all spiritually Semites. Abraham is “our father in faith” as we proclaim in the First Eucharistic prayer. The coming of Jesus is the fulfilment of the covenant made with Abraham, and the entire Old Testament is a saving action of God which reaches its climax in the person of Jesus Christ. Our spiritual roots go back through the centuries to the chosen people of the Old Testament. Their story is our story.

Why does Jesus describe His mission and the coming of God's kingdom in terms of conflict, division and war? He came in peace to reconcile a broken and sinful humanity with an all-merciful and loving God. He also came to wage war on Satan, the enemy of God and humanity.

What does Satan seek? He wants to take as many people as possible into his kingdom, and is fiercely determined not to rest until he has won over the hearts, minds and souls of every living person. The choices we make and the actions we take reveal whose kingdom we support and is it God or Satan that we are choosing to follow.

What is our choice? To place any relationship above the one with God is to indulge in a form of idolatry. For this reason Jesus challenges His disciples to examine who they love first and foremost. Jesus insists that His disciples give Him the loyalty which is only due to God, a loyalty which is higher than spouse or kin. It is possible, sadly, that family or friends can become our enemies - if the wish to please them keeps us from doing what we know God wants us to do.

True love for God compels us to express charity towards our neighbour who is created in the image and likeness of God. Jesus declared that any kindness shown and any help given to the people of Christ will not lose its reward. Jesus never refused to give to anyone in need who asked for His help. As His disciples we are called to be kind and generous as He. Jesus sets before His disciples the one goal in life that is worth any sacrifice and that goal is the will of God which leads to everlasting life, peace and joy with God. Does the love of Jesus Christ compel us to put God first in all we do?

Heavenly Father, set us ablaze with the fire of the Holy Spirit that we may love you in and above all things, and so receive the rewards you have promised us through Christ our Lord.

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