23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C): Gospel – Luke 14:25-33
Jesus challenges us with very difficult sayings – that anyone who doesn’t “hate” his own family and life, and renounce all of his possessions, can’t be His disciple.
Of course, Jesus isn’t literally telling us to hate, when His commandments call us to love. Rather, it is a manner of expression in Semitic languages like Jesus’ own Aramaic: Jesus is pointedly stating that to be true disciples, we must put God first, and prefer Him to everything, including family and possessions. We must not allow relationships, or things, to become obstacles that keep us from God.
Put another way, “Christ is the center of all Christian life. The bond with Him takes precedence over all other bonds, familial or social” (Catechism paragraph 1618).
As Benedict XVI has reflected,
If we listen to today’s Gospel, if we listen to what the Lord is saying to us, it frightens us…We would like to object: What are you saying, Lord?
But the Lord is revealing a profound truth:
Whoever wants to keep his life just for himself will lose it. Only by giving ourselves do we receive our life. In other words: only the one who loves discovers life.
And love always demands going out of oneself, it always demands leaving oneself. Anyone who looks just to himself, who wants the other only for himself, will lose both himself and the other. Without this profound losing of oneself, there is no life.
‘Whoever loses his life for my sake…’ says the Lord: a radical letting-go of our self is only possible if in the process we end up, not by falling into the void, but into the hands of Love eternal. Only the love of God, who loses Himself for us and gives Himself to us, makes it possible for us also to become free, to let go, and so truly to find life.
Question for reflection: What is the most difficult thing that God has asked of me?