Ps 112:1b-2, 4-5, 9
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke.
Great crowds were traveling with Jesus,
and he turned and addressed them,
“If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother,
wife and children, brothers and sisters,
and even his own life,
he cannot be my disciple.
Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me
cannot be my disciple.
Which of you wishing to construct a tower
does not first sit down and calculate the cost
to see if there is enough for its completion?
Otherwise, after laying the foundation
and finding himself unable to finish the work
the onlookers should laugh at him and say,
‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’
Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down
and decide whether with ten thousand troops
he can successfully oppose another king
advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops?
But if not, while he is still far away,
he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms.
In the same way,
everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions
cannot be my disciple.”
Good News Reflection:
When Jesus says in our Gospel reading today that we are not his disciples unless we “hate” others and hate even our own lives, he’s not talking about being unloving to anyone nor being unkind to ourselves.
Following Christ means being so loving that we hate it when someone or something interferes with that love. It means hating sin and worldliness so much that we’re willing to carry the painful crosses of love, making sacrifices to repay evil with goodness and to convert our difficulties into triumphs of holiness.
Jesus warns that if we start on a journey of holiness without agreeing to go all the way, if we’re not willing to carry the cross farther than we’d like to endure, if we’re not interested in going the extra mile, if we’re not willing to die to our own agendas and self-centered desires, and if we let family members or other people influence us into dumping the hardships and seeking only what is fun and easy, we’re like the builder who didn’t have the resources to finish the project. We haven’t learned enough from the life and death of Jesus.
The first reading today affirms this “hate for the sake of love” spirituality. Saint Paul wrote, “The one who loves others has fulfilled the law.” And yet it takes great effort and emotional healthiness and spiritual maturity to hate our selfishness and our own desires enough to handle every situation with love.
It’s especially challenging when our needs are not getting met. If we love others more than they love us, or if we give to others more than we receive from them, we easily revert to self-protective selfishness. The less self-esteem we have and the less spiritual maturity we have the more this is so.
It’s necessary to remember that God does not ask us to love others unconditionally and unselfishly without giving us the ability to do it. Even (or especially!) in the most difficult of times, he gives us whatever we need that will enable us to obey his laws.
When it seems impossible to be Christ-like in our dealings with others, it’s only because we have not let the Spirit of Christ completely fill us. God’s grace is always available. Consider how Mary, our Blessed Mother, was able to resist all temptations; it was only possible because she was full of grace, which was a gift from God to enable her to accomplish his will.
In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, when we recognize and repent of our selfishness, this same grace is bestowed upon us abundantly. The grace to love, the grace to be kind when we feel like being mean or cranky, the grace to hate our own unChristian behaviors and to do what Jesus would do, is a gift of empowerment. It makes us able to be the holy persons that we were baptized to be.
My Lord: Help me to sort all my feelings according to my wholehearted love for You, being certain that You will give me whatever is good for my life. Amen.
© 2017 by Terry A. Modica