Thursday, November 26, 2009

Luke 14:25-33 – Hate Your Father and Mother

Luke 14:25-33 – Hate Your Father and Mother
Now great multitudes accompanied him; and he turned and said to them, "If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, `This man began to build, and was not able to finish.' Or what king, going to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends an embassy and asks terms of peace. So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

Luke has Jesus giving this teaching to 'great crowds'; it is not teaching for an elite group, but teaching that all those who call themselves his followers should take to heart.
We must not be misled, of course, by the stark Semitic turn of phrase he uses.
He does not tell us that we should have no love for the things most precious in our lives, our many bonds of kinship, even our own life itself.

He is telling us that even these things must not be given a preference in our decisions that would amount to a renunciation of Christ and what he stands for.

"This does not mean abandoning or ignoring them, but loving them less than they love God."

He is showing us the seriousness of the mysterious mission he has received from his Father, as he makes for the Holy City to take up his cross.
If we are to be his true followers, we must 'carry his cross and come after him'.
Our following must not be half-hearted, his two parables tell us.
We must weigh up fully the implications of our decision not to allow any consideration to destroy our commitment to him; we must be ready to carry it through to the end.
Otherwise our situation will be like that of the man whose half-completed building is a monument to his foolishness; or worse, like that of the king whose lack of foresight leads him to defeat and death.

"There is a cost to being a disciple of Jesus – you can not act on impulse, but only on a carefully considered program of involvement"

The final words of the gospel are the most challenging of all: 'none of you can be my disciples unless he gives up all his possessions'.
But these very words help us to understand that Luke is not holding up to us an impossible ideal.
Luke stresses the place of poverty in the Christian life; the wording of his first beatitude is blunt: 'Happy are you who are poor' (Lk 6:20); but what follows makes it clear that he does not expect all followers of Jesus to give up all their possessions – they are urged to 'lend, without hope of return' and to 'give' generously.

What the Lord asks for is that, in our life commitments, we place all that is most dear to us in his hands, ready to accept whatever he asks of us. Some Christians, of course, receive a personal call to immediate renunciation – a reminder to us all of the seriousness of our following of Christ.

Source: The Emmaus Series - John Thornhill SM
Source: St Charles Borromeo reflections (in inverted comma's)

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