23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time: Hating that which Separates Us from Jesus

Our Lord often uses hyperbolic to shock His listeners. Today’s gospel provides a good example of this.  Jesus says that we cannot be his disciples if we come to Him without hating father and mother, wife and husband, children and parents, brothers and sister, and even our own lives.  Such word shocks us.  Our Lord is not telling us not to honor your father and mother, nor is He telling us to refuse to see God in others.  And He is not telling us to ignore God’s handwork in our own lives.  He is using startling words to illustrate the demands of being His disciples which includes hating anything that keeps us from being a faithful disciple of Jesus.

The parables in today’s Gospel about a man considering building a tower and a king preparing for war, tells us that we have to have a plan for how we are going to live as a Christian.  We have to ask ourselves how we can best prepare ourselves and the world for the Lord.  We have to stop and look at the many parts of our lives and consider if the fit into the life of a Catholic.  We have our work, our school, our families and friends, our sports and arts. These are important.  We have our bodies and so we have to exercise, eat properly and basically take care of ourselves.  Most important, we have those whom we love and those we take care of. All these are the threads that make up the fabric of our lives. 

We also have to consider if there are any parts of our lives that are actually tearing us away from being a Catholic Christian.  At times, this means making hard choices.  Maybe we need more sleep and less television, or more family time and less time before a screen, computer, tablet or phone.   Maybe we need fewer office projects, school commitments, or other activities that keeps us away from serving God and those around us.

Nothing is more important than being faithful to our Baptismal Promises. Not our stuff, not our likes, not our perceived position among our peers, not even the people in our lives.  We cannot allow anything to stand in the way of our being a true disciple of Jesus Christ.  Our Lord tells us:  “He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.

To be a disciple of Christ means to live beyond the insignificant things that we throw into our lives and to make time first for the things of God.  When Jesus speaks about hating father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters and even our own lives, He is telling us to remove or change those things that hider our fidelity to Jesus and His teachings.

Fr. Tom