“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26)
In today’s first reading, St. Paul tells us to “owe no one anything except love.” This is the summary of the commandments. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind…. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
However, as Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel passage, loving our neighbours as ourselves is never an easy thing to do. It is a sacrifice to love those who hate you. The reason many Christians are not Christ-like is that they cannot show kindness to those who are not kind to them. When we do not love others as Christ loved us, we are not true followers of Jesus. As Jesus puts it: “Whoever does not carry his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple…”
How do we love everyone? How do we behave like Christ in a world so divided as ours? How do we practice our Christian faith in a society that does not encourage Christian values? The answer is detachment – constantly reminding ourselves that we do not belong to this world. Jesus is not asking us to hate our family members; rather, Jesus wants us to be so detached that we can do what is right always.
While we are to love our family members as ourselves, we cannot afford to offend God in the name of love for our family members. For instance, in a time like this, things have become so difficult that finding food for one’s family members is a huge problem. Nevertheless, economic hardship should not be an excuse for stealing, cheating or killing others. This is what Jesus means by the word ‘hate’ in this context.
On the other hand, just as Jesus was hated by so many, anyone who wants to follow Christ’s footsteps should prepare to have a lot of enemies. If you are a people-pleaser, you would end up trying to please the devil and, thereby, compromise your Christian values. Love your neighbour as yourself, but at the same time, don’t be afraid of losing friends who want you to disobey God.
_Saint of the Day:_ Today, we remember the four crowned martyrs: Saint Castorus, Saint Claudius, Saint Nicostratus and Saint Simpronian. They were skilled stone carvers in the 3rd Century quarries. They were drowned in the River Sava in 305 for refusing to carve an idol for Emperor Diocletian. They are patrons of sculptors, stone masons and stonecutters.
Let us pray: Almighty, ever-living God, help me live entirely for you. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.
Bible Study: Romans 13:8-10, Ps. 112:1-2,4-5,9, Luke 14:25-33).*
@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu