GOSPEL COMMENTARY. THE CONDITIONS FOR FOLLOWING CHRIST (Lk 14:25–33).
Conditions for following Christ
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.”
True wisdom consists in seeking and fulfilling God’s Will for us. If we are to fulfill His Divine Will in our life, if we want to follow Christ, we must be ready to renounce everything which could constitute as an obstacle to follow Jesus. Our Lord reminds us in the Gospel (Lk 14: 25-33) that:
“If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple… So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple
- The word “hate” towards our loved ones must not be interpreted literally. It must be understood, in the context of all our Lord’s teachings (cf. Lk 6:27.35). Using a hyperbolic expression, Our Lord simply reminds that when it comes to loving God, we cannot be half-hearted. God must take priority over everything, even above our own preferences, because it is the only way to fulfill His Will, convinced that God knows and wants the best for each one of us. As St. Gregory the Great comments:
- “In this world let us love everyone, even though he be our enemy; but let us hate him who opposes us on our way to God, though he be our relative…. We should, then, love our neighbour; we should have charity towards all; towards relatives and towards strangers, but without separating ourselves from the love of God out of love for them” (In Evangelia homiliae, 37, 3).
- In the last analysis, it is a matter of keeping the proper hierarchy of charity: God must take priority over everything.
- These are “hard words. True, ‘hate’ does not exactly express what Jesus meant. Yet he did put it very strongly, because he doesn’t just mean ‘love less,’ as some people interpret it in an attempt to tone down the sentence. The force behind these vigorous words does not lie in their implying a negative or pitiless attitude, for the Jesus who is speaking here is none other than that Jesus who commands us to love others as we love ourselves and who gives up his life for mankind. These words indicate simply that we cannot be half-hearted when it comes to loving God. Christ’s words could be translated as ‘love more, love better,’ in the sense that a selfish or partial love is not enough: we have to love others with the love of God” (J. Escrivá, Christ is passing by, 97).
When St. Thomas More was in prison awaiting for his execution, he wrote to his daughter, Margaret saying:
“Cheer up, my daughter, and do not worry about me and about what might happen to me in this world. Nothing will come about me which God does not want. And all He wants, no matter how bad it may seem, is actually the best. “
- Obviously, this requires a daily struggle to give primacy to what God wants over what we want and “strive to please God rather than men, always ready to abandon everything for Christ (Vatican II, Apostolicam actuositatem, ) Rest assured that God gives us the grace to carry this out if we ask Him.
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