“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:35-37)
Sounds harsh, yes? But give it a second thought.
Jesus claims priority over the most important things in our lives, including our parents and our children. If following Jesus meant we had to give up eating worms and other crawly disgusting things, discipleship would be very easy. I’m not sure that testimonies that declare, “I gave up the worst things — the most sinful things — in my life, e.g., drugs, alcohol, sex, grand theft auto, and bank robbery to follow Jesus” –means that much. Don’t get me wrong, those things should definitely be given up. But consider St. Paul’s testimony. He stresses giving up of the very best things – the most religious things – in his life in order to follow Jesus (Phil. 3:2-11). Can we ask ourselves about the good things in our life we have given up? Or, perhaps better, made less important in our lives, all in order to follow Christ?
Later Jesus illustrates what this means when he redefines his family: “And pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.” (Mt 12:49-50). Doing the will of God is more important than the most important things we have on earth. It has to become more important than doing the will of parents or doing the will of children – even as you begin to consider how to honor your parents and care for your children.
As my dad said: “The main thing is making sure the main thing remains the main thing.”