Every engaged couple in the Archdiocese of Hartford takes a marriage readiness inventory to see if they know what they are getting into and make sure they are willing and able to enter into marriage.
It’s not a hard test.
They read a statement and answer agree disagree or unsure.
One the the questions that most couples get wrong goes something like this
“One of the most important things I can do for my children is to spend quality time with my spouse.”
Many if not most couples put disagreed because they reason they best thing they can do for their kids is spend time with them.
However the preferred answer to that statement is agree.
Experience has shown that the love which exists between a husband and wife is the most important bond in a marriage.
That love is the glue that holds the whole family together and relationship between a husband and wife needs special attention if it is going to survive and sustain the family.
It’s so easy to get lost in taking care of the kids and to have the bond which supports the whole family weaken.
I once had an old priest stop me in the hall of one of our High School friaries.
He was a seasoned old teacher s wise man and the kids and all the friars loved and respected him.
I was surprised when he put his hands on my shoulders and kind of pinned me to the wall.
Then look me in the eye and said “stop.”
“Just stop. You are too busy just too busy.”
He told me I was good at what I did but that he feared I would eventually burn out grow tired or become resentful.
He thanked me for my youth pastoral fervor but explained that the best thing I could do for the kids God had given me to serve was to be a holy man and a peace filled man.
We all know that priests are people and all the activity, busyness risks weakening our bond with God and with the very people.
Once upon a time there was a friar pastor who answered the phone during lunch one day and said “Mater Dolorsa” Lunch time and hung up without listening
Little did he know it was Father Provincial calling.
It was obvious to everyone that he needed a rest from the hectic pace of parish life and he got one.
Another guy I lived with would be joking and laughing at supper but when the phone rang his whole demeanor would change instantly and his end of the conversation went something like this. Hello? What? No? Hang up.
It was only after I was pinned to the wall that I began to take a day or at the very least a morning off to clear my head or say my prayers and take a hike.
When we read the words of the in the Gospel today
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.
They probably rub us the wrong way.
Aren’t supposed to love your father, mother, son, daughter etc.
What Jesus is really saying is if I want to be the best possible priest for you I have to be the holy priest a committed priest I have to put God first and let my relationship with Him guide me as I journey through life.
If you want to be the best possible husband, or best possible wife or best possible Mom or Best possible Dad then we have to put God first in our lives
When you think about it if we don’t put God first in our lives then we are not worthy of Him and we are not worthy of each other.
God Has to come first.
Only when we live as God would have us live and pray as God would have us pray
and love as God would have us love can we ever hope to be the men and women we were created to be.
Today’s Gospel is not suggesting that we love our loved ones less rather it challenges to love them more by taking our cue from God and by being Men and women of faith..
Your kids deserve holy, generous, loving parents who base their decisions on how God loves.
Your spouse deserves the very best from you.
If you want to be worthy of that goofball God gave you for a husband or if you want to be worthy of that beautiful woman God gave you as your wife be holy.
You deserve holy priests, men who are able and willing to pour out their lives in loving service of the Kingdom of God.
And I have come to understand that I can only pour my life for you, I can only love you as I should, if I put God first.
Everything I do has to be guided and directed by God’s love and God’s purpose for my life.
So good people let us resolve to put God first in our lives and everything else will fall into place that’s what the Gospel is telling us today.