November 4, 2020 – Wednesday of the 31st Week in Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/110420.cfm)
Why do some human relationships cause more pain and harm than joy and peace in us? Why do some human relationships fail and eventually hurt us for the rest of our life? We have seen how broken human relationships bring people towards desperation, loneliness, bitterness, anger and hatred. The jealousy, unfaithfulness, insecurities, betrayal and irresponsibility can cause havoc and damage to our human relationships whether at home, at work, among lovers and couples, among friends and communities.
But if we would really look at its roots, we will surely find “selfishness” as the active agent that corrupts our human relationships. Our tendency to advance our personal agenda, to prioritize what is only good for ourselves, to secure benefits for ourselves alone and to satisfy our personal desires above others will eventually make us very toxic to our relationships.
Thus, a selfish lover or spouse will turn out to be abusive and emotionally manipulative. A self-centered parent can become controlling and even violent in words and actions towards the children. A self-centered friend can be constantly seeking recognition and praise from others or could be insisting to always consider his or her comfort but unwilling to compromise for the sake of others. These are just few examples of possible actions and tendencies of selfishness that can certainly destroy and cause damage to our relationships.
That’s why, we also long for a relationship that will truly help us as persons and mold us to become better persons. The readings today have very important message for us and for our human relationships.
For our human relationships to have a grounding and a better foundation, our relationships must be rooted in God not to our personal preferences and selfish intentions. This means that becoming a disciple of Jesus leads towards a healthy and holy human relationships. This is what Jesus meant as he said, “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, he cannot be my disciple.”
Though hating one’s family member seems to be so harsh for us today, but Jesus did not mean the English word “hatred.” This is a Jewish idiom that meant for “preferences.” Thus, Jesus meant that when we give more preference or priority to others than God, then, we cannot be his disciple. Our human relationships too will lose a good foundation.
Hence, Jesus also said, “everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.” The possessions, which could be our wealth and material things, self-image and fame, position and influence, achievement and status in the community, may possess us to the point that they become our priority rather than God and loving others through service.
God asks us today to make Him as our priority over our other priorities. What is more beautiful here is God’s invitation for us to make our relationship with Him as the “life and soul” of our human relationships. It is from our relationship with God that, hopefully, we will become responsible and generous persons especially as we relate with others as a parent, sibling, a child, a friend or as a professional or whatever work, profession and status we have now.
This is what Paul also expressed in his letter to the Philippians. A community that lives in the presence of God and rejoices in God’s presence “will shine like lights in the world.” Therefore, giving priority to God and making God the very center of our human relationships will transform us like lights in the world.
Consequently, we will also witness how a couple whose relationship is grounded in God becomes loving and inspiring to others. A family whose relationship prioritizes God becomes a source of comfort, security and joy, becoming a true home. A friendship where the Lord plays the most important part among friends becomes welcoming and discerning.
This is how the Lord moves us as we make God the very priority of all our human relationships. We may all work on this so that we will also become less and less self-centered and selfish and become more self-giving and life-giving. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR