Twenty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
What Jesus says in today’s Gospel is pretty shocking. To be a follower of Jesus you must “hate” your mother and father. Now, there are a lot of homilies that say that hate really means to like less. There are others that say hate means something other than hate, but my question is this. If the original Greek version’s word means something else then why wasn’t it used? If you think about it, Jesus says quite a few shocking and disturbing things. He says that He has come to set the world ablaze and wishes that it was already burning, that He did not come as a peacemaker but with a sword, and that He would turn families against each other.
Today’s Gospel, best known for the words about hating mother and father has more in it, however. What Jesus is telling us today is that there is a cost to following Him. He is saying that following Him will be hard, it will cost you and before you decide to do this you had better sit down, like the tower builder in the Gospel and count the cost to see what it will take.
He also tells us that we will be opposed by forces that hate His message and these forces are powerful and many and before committing to a life as a Christian that battle must be taken into consideration. He wants the Christian to be aware of what he or she is entering into and how it will affect them.
What Jesus does not want; it seems to me are followers who will depart at the first sign of trouble. He did have them, we know, remember how 10 of the 11 disciples fled when the soldiers came to arrest Him in the garden.
He knows that we are weak, He knows that quite often our egos commit us to things that we can never carry out, He knows that many of us, many times, when things get bleak will turn around and run away.
So, what He is asking us to do today is to take stock of ourselves, to count the cost of serving Him and to prepare ourselves.
He knows also that when things get hard, we will hold on to the things that are the most important to us. If when the time comes to make the decision as to what is most important, He wants us to chose Him. He wants us to be loyal to Him and to belong to Him, heart and mind and soul.
This is hard, as humans we find it hard to give up what we know for what we don’t know, or know less of. To remedy this, we should continually allow ourselves to be drawn into a deepening relationship with our Savior. By deepening our relationship with Jesus, He becomes more and more important to us and thus we are much more likely to hold on to Him in times of crisis rather than something else.
We will fail Him in this from time to time, but just like the Apostles who ran away He will welcome us back for He loves us and wants us with Him. So even if we miscount the cost of discipleship, we can still be sure that our Lord will be there to love us and welcome us back. Trust Him. God Bless You.