The Gospel reading from the Mass for Monday of the 15th Week of Ordinary Time is Matthew 10:34-11:1.

After charging the Apostles with the mandate to evangelize and warning them of the division, even in families, that being a His disciple will bring, Christ concludes His Missionary Sermon (Matt 10) by further describing the costs and reward of discipleship.

Continuing the warning of the persecutions that come with proclaiming the Kingdom of Heaven, Christ describes how His disciples will suffer rejection and alienation by their family members because of the Gospel. The Mediterranean/Jewish culture of the 1st century (and even today) valued family/kin bonds above almost all else. Christ’s emphatic revelation that disciples must be willing to be rejected by family for the sake of the Gospel is startling; He strongly states “I have not come to bring peace but a sword” (v. 34); He reveals that those who love family members more than Him are “not worthy of Me.” Christ calls on men to pick up their cross and to follow Him; this is how a man becomes worthy and is rewarded with eternal life.

Christ also describes the very real connection and blessings that come from those who receive His disciples; those who receive one of Christ’s disciples also receive Christ and the Father. Besides receiving the blessing of receiving Christ and the Father, those who take the simple act of accepting and supporting the disciples receive an incredible reward; those who receive can be blessed with the same reward as a prophet or righteous man. Christ reveals that even small acts of kindness to a disciple (giving a disciple a cup of water because He is Christ’s disciple) will result in incredible rewards.

Awed by Jesus ChristDivine King, Christ uses a militaristic example (the sword) to describe the unavoidable choice in the Spiritual Combat to either be with Him or against Him and calls men to support His Apostles.  Divine Prophet, Christ exhorts disciples to “pick up their cross” in sacrifice and foresees the harsh family divisions that will occur as some reject the Gospel. Divine Judge, Christ has high expectations of sacrifice for those He calls worthy and who will rewarded and saved.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Christ demands exclusive commitment to Himself, even if it means losing one’s family.  Reflect on the tough, uncompromising Christ who brings a sword, judges and gives both rewards and punishments.

2) Christ’s “sword” is a recognition of the deadly nature of Original Sin and the Spiritual Combat against the Evil One that Christ and the Heavenly Host (“army of angels”) come to vanquish. Refresh your understanding of the Spiritual Combat (CCC 407-409) and pray for Christ to help make you a fierce warrior in the battle against evil.

3) Christ’s promises of reward for those who support the Church include, not only Heaven, but the blessing while on earth of being in communion with other Catholics. Reflect on the blessings of the Communion of Spiritual Goods (CCC 949-953) and pray for Christ to draw you into deeper communion in your parish.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Joyful Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Souls in Purgatory

Virtue of the Day – Prudence

Corporal Work of Mercy – To give drink to the thirsty

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To instruct the ignorant