These readings truly speak to my mothering soul. In Isaiah God is saying to Sodom and Gomorrah something every parent has said, something like this: “Look, all this showy stuff is kinda what I expect but it is still just a smoke screen to cover up the fact that you just aren’t listening to me!”
What do I care for the multitude of your sacrifices? says the LORD. I have had enough of whole-burnt rams and fat of fatlings; In the blood of calves, lambs, and goats I find no pleasure. IS 1:11
In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus speaks of taking up our cross and follow him. As a mom I know the crosses that can be placed on our shoulders: difficult pregnancies, working to support the family, living on merger incomes, caring for ill children, dealing with a divorce, rebelling tween/teens.
As St. Francis De Sales has said of our personal cross: “We don’t have to go looking for our crosses, they will find us.”
“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.” MT
Does Jesus mean that loving your father makes you unworthy of him? Isn’t it a commandment to honour your father and mother? What Jesus speaks of here is not that he rejects the commandment to honour, he wants our main focus of love and honour to be to him and all else will follow. In fact the Gospel has Jesus bringing a sword to the party: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword.”
Our crosses come from discord, the sword, within families. We can bring crosses into our homes with issues of any kind of abuse, financial, martial, communication issues. Any break down of the unity of the martial bond, parental bond, or societal bond brings discord and discord creates crosses.
Crosses can be momentary annoyances. Those thing you have no control over. There is the Brainfall Game called: “How B*itchy Are You“, in it you are given a number of every day annoyances and you are asked a question on your response to that annoyance; the higher the number the b*tchier you are. And the b*tcheir the lest likely you are to being ample to handle that cross.
How are we to handle these crosses? Self denial. As moms we know this every well. It is what we do when we have infants, sacrifice sleep, the thought of ever doing something more than nursing and nappies. It is what we do with toddlers, giving up the idea that we can do anything alone ever again. And with our tweens and teens, it is being able to stop worrying about their safety.
Denying the self, self sacrifice, is the only sacrifice God is interested in; but an interesting thing happens when you practice self denial, you become closer to God AND your fellow man.
It is the surrender to God’s care