Reflecting on Luke 14:25-33
Okay, did Jesus really say we have to hate everybody we love in order to be his disciple? Isn’t that completely out of character with everything we know about him?
First, the better translation for “hate” is “to love less than”. Am I willing to love my own life less than I love being wrapped in the mystery and grace and healing love of Jesus? Oh yeah. Because it’s a win-win. When I yield to the stronger-than-death love of Christ I find my life all over again, hidden and made richer through my day-by-day encounter with his Spirit. How could I ever love my life if it were apart from him?
But look out. A life in Christ means the status quo is out the window. For example, the tribal codes of honor and shame that kept sons and daughters in perpetual debt to their parents were dismantled by Jesus’ invitation to follow him instead. In that fascinating second reading today Paul reminded the Christian slaveholder Philemon that his slave Onesimus had been baptized, and was now his brother in Christ. Wow!
So, loving Jesus more than we love slavery, family ties that welcome no stranger, religious restrictions that keep us forever bound up in guilt and unworthiness? You bet. That’s the liberating message of this difficult Gospel today. The disciple of Jesus hates everything that keeps a grudge going, a door closed, and a social status in place that, when the ship is going down, keeps some down in steerage while the rest of us get the lifeboats.
So I get it now. That message is completely in character with everything we know about Jesus.
Sharing God’s Word at Home
Is there something you need to “love less than” in order to have a deeper faith life?
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I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).