Sunday, June 24
By Vincent Guider
This Sunday’s gospel ends with Jesus admonishing the Twelve. He says, “Everyone who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my heavenly Father, but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my heavenly Father. (Matthew 10:32-33). This message has always gripped me because just like us, God wants loyalty.
Last Sunday’s celebration of Father’s Day caused me to think deeply about how much my own parents cared for my two older brothers and me and the role loyalty played in our relationship. Through all the years we were growing up on Chicago’s South Side, they loved us unconditionally and poured into us. Both of them conducted themselves admirably as role models we could look up to. They were wonderfully dignified, devoted, God fearing parents who made it easy for us to admire and trust them. We were always proud to claim them as ours, but there was one dark period during my adolescence when, as a saying goes in the hood, that I lost my mind and took a trip down stupid street. I turned against them and it was for no logical reason.
I had lapsed into a selfish fog that can occasionally confuse young people causing them to view their parents as the most embarrassing dorks on Planet Earth and reject them. I didn’t want to be seen in their company out in public. Interestingly enough, I never, EVER missed a trip to the dinner table at home or a chance to ask them for money, favors or rides where I needed to go; I just didn’t want anyone to directly associate me with them. It was dumb, I know!
I found it within myself to turn my back on the very people who made sure every member of the family had all we needed every day. They worked together to send my siblings and I to good schools and to make sure we applied ourselves. They set good example at home and away, taught us the ropes of life, and proved to be ever loyal, living examples of faith, integrity and responsibility. They were the last people who deserved such disrespect, yet I still found it within myself to turn away out of some irrational shame for them. I am sure they, as seasoned parents, understood I was just going through a selfish yet temporary tantrum, but I bet it hurt them deep down anyway. Thankfully my stupid behavior was eventually completely forgiven and we all moved past it, but I’ve never forgotten how I betrayed two people who did not deserve such treatment. Days like Father’s Day and Mother’s Day often bring on flashbacks of episodes like that reminding me that we should never turn our backs on those who are ever loyal to us.
I don’t want to loyally follow any old body, but may I be ever loyal to God and people around me who deserve it because of their care, truth and virtue. Again, as they might say it in the hood, I want to be one with that womb to the tomb, “I got your back”, ride or die, Keep it 100 kind of devotion. If I proudly vouch for them and claim them as my own perhaps they, in turn, will do the same for me before God and others.