…..from your Pastors’ Desk…
Don’t be a Hater!
The first words we hear from Jesus in this Sunday’s Gospel passage might startle us. They were spoken by the Lord to convey without the shadow of a doubt a very important message to his followers. The words of Jesus are these: “If any one 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.” Yikes! Hate? Those are very tough words and what are we to make of them?
Why does Jesus say we must “hate” our loved ones and even ourselves? The strong language used by the Lord stems from his setting and times, a Semitic worldview, where poetic and often very strong language was used to convey a teaching in no uncertain terms. So without a doubt we can say the term “hate” is an obvious exaggeration, but what is the underlying message?
Jesus wanted to make clear the vital point that for those who wish to follow him, namely, that nothing and no one other than God should take precedence or first place in our lives. That place is reserved for God alone. Should we actually hate those who are not God? No, of course not, for the law of love is clearly at the heart of all Gospel teaching.
Another way to express the words of Jesus today in our daily life is that we are to prefer God to everything and everyone else, and at the same time never neglect the supreme law of love for one another. In fact that is one of Jesus’ parting words to his chosen band: “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12).
We are being asked by the Lord to place our lives totally in his hands with absolute trust. God is to hold first place in our life. Jesus told his followers elsewhere in the Gospels that to do so, to strive to do God’s will, qualifies such ones as brothers and sisters of Christ.
So we must ask: is God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, holding the most important place in my life and is my life centered in Christ? Probably none of us can give a resounding “yes,” to the question, but if we strive for such a goal with sincerity and perseverance, we have to believe that it is slowly becoming a reality and that our love for others will attain its full growth as well.
We live in times when commitment to anything and anyone is not fashionable or easy. Nevertheless, in the depths of our hearts we are all seeking something that will last and offer us hope in a world asphyxiated by strife, unhappiness, brokenness and despair.
Christ wishes us to belong to him and to allow him to take all our burdens and weariness upon his infinite tenderness. Belonging to Christ will not end our sufferings, but will make them bearable under the shadow of his outstretched arms. God so loved the world that Christ was sent to earth by God to redeem the human family.
Too often our world is focused on pleasure, possessions and self-seeking, as if these are the things that really matter. Christ is calling us to something and someone else. Christ asks each of us to commit ourselves entirely to the love of God and neighbor, for a life that is truly fulfilling and that will extend to eternal life in heaven.
So, yes, you ARE called to love your father, your mother, your wife, your husband, your children your sister and your brother, and, don’t forget – yourself too! And by loving God above all you will be a much better, son, daughter, parent, brother, sister, husband or wife and person in general.
And, above all – Don’t Be A Hater!