“Anyone who does not carry his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple”

“Anyone who does not carry his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple”

Today’s readings challenge us to the true Christian discipleship of total commitment to the will of God, putting God first in our lives.

The gospel passage on renouncing our family relationships giving priority to God puzzles a lot of people because in the Middle East, anyone who deliberately cut ties with family and social network would lose the ordinary means of making a living. Further, a person’s life and family relationships were a necessity for security and identity, regardless of social position. Why was Jesus, who had been recommending that his followers love everybody –including their enemies–suddenly announcing that no one could be his disciple unless he hated his own family? The word hate, as used in this case, “is Semitic exaggeration and may reflect an idiom which means ‘love less than’ (Oxford Bible Commentary). So, it is clear that Jesus’ “hating” one’s family is a Semitic hyperbole or exaggeration, spoken for effect. The word “hate,” in Hebrew, does not mean “detest” but to “put in second place. Jesus is not calling us to hate father and mother but is instead calling us to a commitment above all other commitments, including commitment to family. When Jesus said, “hate your family,” he was talking about spiritual detachment, the ability to put God first, before other relationships and before self-interest. Without such detachment, one does not have the ability truly to follow Jesus. Jesus cannot just be a part of our life but the center.

from the homily of Fr Tony Kadavil available at http://frtonyshomilies.com

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