St. Paul instructs us today to die to sin and live "for God in Christ Jesus" (Rom 6: 11). Do we live for God? Is our entire life centered around and towards God? Some people think we have "deviated from God." That was the phrase used by Matt, a salesman from Cleveland, Ohio, whom I recently made the acquaintance of in an elevator and later at breakfast in Roanoke, Virginia. He initiated a conversation with me about our society and family and how we have disconnected from God. Matt concluded that we need to reconnect with God and nature to find our true selves. I agreed with Matt and added we need to worship God above all things as the Bible commands us: "You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve" (see Lk 4:8; Deuteronomy 6:4).
Three times in the passage from the Gospel according to Matthew this Sunday (Mt. 10: 37-39), Jesus reminds us of the importance of directing worship to God alone because only God is worthy of such. But who is worthy of Jesus? The only one worthy of Jesus is the one who prices him above even the most valuable relationships in our lives, even our family. Devotion to Jesus must be greater than our love for our family; God comes first- he is above all. We must ask ourselves a sincere question, do we always place God above all other essential things in our lives? Is Jesus worth more of our focus than the demands of family, friends, work, pleasure, social media, entertainment, food, drink, study, sports, money, clothing, etc.?
Who is worthy of Jesus? The one who lives for God in Christ Jesus. The one who gives him priority over all other beautiful things in life screaming for our attention. Giving Jesus the first place over other things manifests primarily in sacred and liturgical worship. "You shall worship the Lord your God." As Catholics, the worship of God takes the most solemn form in Eucharistic adoration. Jesus, as a sacrifice of praise, is offered to God at every mass as the primary form of worship. However, worshiping God in the Eucharist is not limited to mass on Sunday or during the week; it extends outside mass to Eucharistic adoration. The Catechism of the Catholic Church spelled this out clearly: "The Catholic Church has always offered and still offers to the sacrament of the Eucharist the cult of adoration, not only during Mass, but also outside of it, reserving the consecrated hosts with the utmost care, exposing them to the solemn veneration of the faithful, and carrying them in procession" (1378).
We, the St. Peter family, "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation" (1 Pt 2:9), get another opportunity to offer solemn veneration to Jesus in the Eucharist this Monday, tomorrow, the third of July (as we get ready for the 247th fourth of July Independence celebration). As a priestly people, St. Peter, our patron saint, urges us to "announce the praises of him," who has granted us freedom and light. As we have done several times, let us prioritize the worship of Jesus over all other things by turning out in large numbers with our family and friends to our parish monthly Eucharistic Adoration tomorrow at 6 p.m. to offer praises to God, who has blessed and continues to bless us and our country.
Happy Fourth of July.
Fr. Bernard, OP