‘‘If any man comes to me without hating his father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, yes and his own life too, he cannot be my disciple. Anyone who does not carry his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple: (Luke 14,26)
How many people who heard those words have not been shocked by their radical and unreasonable demand? If we did not receive the gift of “faith” at baptism from the Holy Spirit, we could easily say to Jesus: “Who do you think you are?!” And even if we know that Jesus is not a guru or another spiritual
leader but God “made flesh”, we may still have a hard time to accept the radical choice that Jesus asks his true disciples to make. Hating our parents is even in contradiction with one of the Ten Commandments… Thus, what does Jesus want us to understand beyond our possible reaction to his strong words?
“What man indeed can know the intentions of God? Who can divine the will of the Lord?” (Wisdom 9,13)
Thus, using the gifts of Wisdom and Understanding we have received again in the sacrament of Confirmation, we may be able to understand the striking message of Jesus if we simply put the word “prefers” instead of “hates”. While keeping that word even if it shocks us, we need to understand “prefers” so that the deep intention of Jesus is revealed and the apparent contradiction with the 4th Commandment is lifted.
Then we can more clearly answer another question of Jesus: “Who do you say that I am?”
Jesus is the only person who can fill our heart absolutely with divine love far beyond the most loving person we could find on earth. Why? Because Jesus is God made flesh! Neither parent nor spouse can succeed in loving us so as to give us Eternal life and the Vision of God!
It is because of his infinite love for each one of us that we can accept the various sufferings God allows us to experience on earth. Psychologically, any suffering hurts of course and cannot cause joy! Yet, if it is offered up to God for our sins and as a way to co-operate with Jesus in the salvation of souls, it can be joyful.
If Jesus invites all of us to accept sufferings as he did, it is to share in his glory.