Wednesday in the Thirty-First Week of Ordinary Time
[Scripture Readings: Rom 13:8-10; Lk 14:25-33]
This is a hard saying! “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” Jesus can't be preaching hate. What does he mean?
An important way to understand hard sayings is to let Scripture interpret Scripture. What do other passages say about love and hate? In Matthew 10 Jesus says: “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (10:37-38). And in the First Letter of John, the apostle tells us, “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer” (1 John 3:15). In other words, this hard saying is about loving God above all else, the First Commandment.
But it's still a hard saying. In a recent campus shooting, a girl was asked if she was a Christian. She could have said no to save her life. Instead, she said, “Yes.” And she did this after the person ahead of her was shot to death for saying yes.
St. Paul writes that “[All] who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim 3:12). We are given these hard sayings to prepare us for severe trials, even death. For those who die in Christ Jesus can say, “Oh death, where is your victory? Oh death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor 15:455). Our enemy, Satan, with twenty thousand troops is stronger than we are, but prepared by Jesus, “We are more than conquerors through him who loves us” (Rom 8:37).