If the beginning of today’s Gospel passage offers reassurance amid difficulty, the second half of the passage reads like the fine print on a contract. It reveals some difficult information: The gospel will not always be met with acceptance; sometimes it will be met with conflict.

We usually interpret the word sword in this passage not as a physical weapon or threat of violence but as the opposite of harmony. Following Jesus, especially in the context of the early church, means conflict with the larger culture that expects worship of the Roman gods and within the church that contains a volatile mixture of Jewish and Gentile converts. It should always be a bracing note to modern Christians used to being in a majority that non-Jewish Christians are the outsiders to the covenant community but graciously are included by Paul’s vision of a community no longer Jew or Greek, but one in Christ.

The rejection we might experience in the United States today—perhaps seeming uncool to our nonchurchy friends—is much less dangerous a situation. Still, we can observe that the love of Jesus does not grant us automatic utopia.

What, then, is our goal? Christ calls us to lose our life in order to gain it; that is, to lose our grip on the self as the center, to let go of the pursuit of personal gain, and to find instead a deeper identity forged in being authentically ourselves in service of the greater good—the kingdom’s gain. The meaning felt in such a life is deeper, more profound in its scope. It grants us the relief of losing eternal neediness and gaining the lightness of being found in faithfulness, in relationship, in communion with God’s very body.

Jesus, we would be one with you. Teach us daily to long for connection with the parts of your body different from our own, that together we can do your work and love as you love. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Matthew 10:24-39

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Lectionary Week
June 15–21, 2020
Scripture Overview

The story of Isaac and Ishmael resounds through human history down to today. According to Genesis, tensions between the descendants of Isaac and the descendants of Ishmael go back to the lifetime of Abraham himself. These are complex issues, and we are wise to understand them theologically, not just politically. The psalmist calls out to God from a place of desperation, yet even in desperation there is confident hope in God. Paul attacks a theology of “cheap grace” in Romans. Yes, God forgives us; but this does not give us license to do whatever we want. When we are joined to Christ, we die to ourselves. Jesus tells his disciples that following him is a sort of death. We sacrifice a life under our own control yet find something much greater.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read Genesis 21:8-21. Consider an action you regret or wish you’d handled differently. How might a daily examen practice help you correct or move on from your mistakes?
Read Psalm 86:1-10, 16-17. With whom do you need to reconcile? How might this psalm help you begin that process?
Read Romans 6:1b-11. Consider the author’s question, “What does freedom from sin look like?” Allow the author’s suggestions and questions to guide your searching for an answer.
Read Matthew 10:24-39. How do you see the tension Jesus identifies between inclusion and separation in your Christian life today?

Respond by posting a prayer.

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