Our Gospel story today from Luke 14:25-33 is difficult to understand. Jesus is telling us at the beginning of this Gospel that unless we hate our mother and father, wife and children, our brothers and sisters even our own lives, we cannot be disciples of Jesus! The end of the Gospel is almost as challenging. Jesus tells us if we do not renounce all our possessions we cannot be his disciple. What happened? Where is the loving and kind Jesus? Where is the Jesus that cured the sick and offered himself on the cross for our sins?
Jesus is speaking with a great deal of exaggeration. He is doing it to get people to listen to him. This was a common practice at the time of Jesus and is how people speak in the Middle East today. Much of this exaggeration can be witnessed in our television, radio and print ads. If you take them literally, I think we can all agree you are certainly going to be disappointed.
The purpose of Jesus being so emphatic is to impress upon us the importance of our relationship with God. Simply, Jesus is telling us that he must be the center of our lives. Everything we do should be driven by Jesus’ teaching and the way of life he shows us in the Gospels. We should do our best to make sure that possessions and selfish wants do not take precedence over our relationship with him or with each other.
Following Jesus Christ means we put all else in second place. Then we carry our own cross and suffer along with Jesus; after all, he gave everything so that we might live eternally with him.
Peace and All Good!