‘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.’
Here we are talking about ‘amoral familism.’ That is the extreme type of family bond which existed in Palestine and still exists, even today, in some cultures. For example ‘honour killing’ of a member of a family to preserve ‘the honour of the family.’ Willingness to do extreme hurt to any outsider who threatened the family in any way.
What Jesus of Nazareth is telling his disciples is that even if your family disapprove of your being a Christian or do not want you to live as a Christian, this must not deter you from following Jesus of Nazareth.
Situations like this are common today when only one member of a family is Christian or when a son or daughter might wish to enter the religious life.
‘Whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink, amen, I say to you, they will surely not lose their reward.’
What about the ones who install and maintain a water supply for a whole town?
What about those who build and maintain roads and transport systems?
What about those who build and maintain property?
What about those who educate and guide our children?
Those who look after our mental and physical health?
The ones who keep our money safe and administer it wisely and honestly?
Those who keep the peace so that we can live safely in our homes?
Those who remove our rubbish and waste? Etc Etc.
In all these things it is the motivation and the dedication that matters.
I can give a cup of cold water to a thirsty person just to get rid of them or because I really want to help them, as a person; as a brother or sister.
I can repair a person’s car as fast as possible and as cheaply as possible just so that I get my money, or I can do it conscientiously and carefully so that the owner can travel safely and dependably.
In everything I do the personal element must be involved. What I am doing is for somebody, will help somebody, is important to somebody and that somebody is a very valuable, a very important person because he/she is a child of God and my brother or sister.
If one is looking after a home; washing, cleaning, ironing, cooking etc. getting the motivation right is much easier as it is for people you love and respect.
That is why Jesus did not just say ‘Whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink, amen, I say to you, they will surely not lose their reward.’
What He said was; ‘whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple, truly I tell you they will not lose their reward.’
Here understand ‘in the name of a disciple’ or ‘because they are a disciple,’ to mean, because they are God’s children and your brothers and sisters.
This is the motivation which can give the most repetitive and boring tasks meaning, at least some of the time.
This is what can sanctify the work I do. This is how I can ‘pray always without becoming weary,’ and fulfil St. Paul’s exhortation to ‘pray at every opportunity in the Spirit.’
My work; Everything I do and say can evolve into a prayer. In this way there will be no distinction, no separation, between work, prayer and leisure.