What is our reward?

This Sunday’s Gospel passage from Matthew can be quite challenging at a time when many of us are looking for a message that might bring a bit of light relief. In the first half of this passage, Jesus’ words seem harsh. As this Gospel continues, his message changes to be one of hope.

Jesus is telling us that, if we love God with all our heart, then our love for our family is enriched and deepened because of our love for God.

Jesus is teaching his disciples. If we look at the context of this passage, we see that it is Jesus’ final instruction to the disciples before he went on to proclaim his message in the cities of the twelve (Mt 11:1).

As teacher, Jesus is preparing the disciples for spreading the Good News. Jesus knows that proclaiming his message of hope will not be easy. He challenges the disciples and calls them to ‘take up the cross’ (Mt 10:38) and follow him.

Using the image of the cross, Jesus is telling his disciples that spreading the Good News will be challenging. There will be pain, persecution, rejection and humiliation. Like any good teacher, Jesus is being honest and upfront in preparing them for what was to come. However, in spite of the pain and suffering, the rewards they will receive will be abundant. By welcoming Jesus, by spreading the Good News, even when it is challenging, the disciples ‘will most certainly not lose their reward’ (Mt 10:42).

What is Jesus trying to teach us during these most challenging times as our world comes to terms with living in the midst of a pandemic? How can we be disciples in a world that has been turned upside down? Blessings abound as we reach out to neighbours and strangers, to the vulnerable in our community, to provide support during these difficult times. In the words of St Francis, we are preaching the Gospel without using words. We are saying yes to our call to be disciples and proclaiming Jesus’ message of welcome and hope.

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