08/09 – September, 2007 - 23 SUNDAY - C
Lord Jesus, You invite is to follow you in the sincerity of our hearts,
Lord, have mercy.
Christ Jesus, advise us to make a sincere revision of our lives,
Christ, have mercy.
Lord Jesus, ask us to go further than our human capacities,
Lord, have mercy.
May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and brig us to everlasting life. Amen.
Wisdom 9:13-18; Philemon 9b,12-17; Luke 14:25-33
"GREAT CROWDS ACCOMPANIED JESUS on his way..." During his public life, Jesus had some of the star quality that we recognize in personalities who capture the public's imagination. It seems natural that the crowds following Jesus were sensation seekers. They were out to get something from Jesus, not altogether unlike some of those who today converge in large numbers wherever some modern "miracle" or "apparition" has been reported. And, indeed, how many of us look on God or Jesus as someone to turn to when we want something we cannot get ourselves?
With the people in today's Gospel Jesus suddenly stops in his tracks. He turns round and says words that were quite shocking to his hearers and sound pretty harsh to us too: "If anyone comes to me without hating father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, yes, and his own life, that person cannot be my follower/disciple." The Jews, like a number of other ethnic communities, are recognized for their close family ties. What were they and what are we to make of such an extraordinary statement? And surely we have an incomprehensible contradiction here. Jesus, who tells us to love our enemies, now tells us to hate our nearest and dearest! Is this the same Jesus who cured the mother-in-law of Peter? The same Jesus who told the story of the Good Samaritan? The same Jesus who enjoyed the hospitality of his good friends, Mary and Martha?
I suppose the majority of us follow a lifestyle largely dictated by the surrounding culture and our goals are the goals of that culture and, somewhere on the side, we try to fit in some aspects of Christian living. In most of our modern, urban societies that lifestyle is for the most part competitive, consumerist and materialistic. We would not want our Christianity to get in the way of that. But it is precisely to people like us that Jesus is speaking..
It is quite obvious from the overall context of Luke's gospel that Jesus could not mean us literally to hate our parents, brothers and sisters. Nor does Jesus literally mean us to hate our own lives. People who feel that way effectively commit suicide. (Hate and the anger and violence that it produces are the product of fear.) On the contrary we are called to have love and compassion for every single person, irrespective of who they are or what their relationship may be to us. True love casts out fear. What Jesus is saying today is putting in another way what we have already seen in discussing other passages, such as, the story of the Good Samaritan and the Lord's Prayer.
“Those who come to me
cannot be my disciples
unless they love me more than they love
father and mother, wife and children,
brothers and sisters, and themselves as well.”
These words of Jesus are simply a irrespective way of saying that our priority in life must be to Jesus and to his work of completing God’s kingdom on earth.
They are simply a provocative way of saying that as followers of Jesus; our responsibility extends beyond our flesh-and-blood family to the entire human family.
They are simply a provocative way of saying that if we want to follow Jesus, we must follow him not only into church on Sunday morning but also into the marketplace on Monday morning and during the whole week as well.
Because: “The Lord is first, my family and my friends are second, and I am third.’’