Matthew 16: Unsafe

OK, so Matthew 16 ends with a version of the saying that we heard at mass Sunday from Luke 14 about needing to hate your mother and father and brothers and sisters and pick up your cross if you want to follow Jesus.

There’s a Christian radio station in Orlando that has a catchphrase that makes my skin crawl. “Always safe for the little ears.” Readings like last Sunday’s should make it clear that, either they aren’t being true to who God is, or they are telling a boldface lie.

Love, vulnerability, compassion, hospitality. Those are the *opposite* of safe. Expose your kid to the real message of Jesus – not the socially sanitized Gospel-as-good-citizenship message but the wild and radical call to say Yes to love of God and the other in the face of being called weird, subversive, and much worse – and it just might sink in. Jesus’ way, he hints strongly here, does not end tidily. Best be aware of that going in, he says, so that you’re making an informed choice. If things go well for you now, just know that the hero ends up getting nailed to a cross. Eventually, somehow, you too will be asked to give up everything you hold more dear than the God you profess to follow. God doesn’t ask us to be masochists; God *does* ask us to suffer for the sake of love, vulnerability and compassion. It will be a lot of things, but safe is not one of them. 

Parents and kids should know what they’re really getting in to.

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