By Carolyn Kubrak
Sometimes, the truth can hurt, and bring a harsh reality check I would rather not hear. In today's Gospel, Jesus does not tread lightly when speaking to the masses of people around Him (although Jesus is rarely one to sugar coat things, anyway).
I like to imagine myself as one of the crowd, waiting with bated breath on every word He is saying.
I listen intently, hoping He will look me in the eye, and speak directly to me; say something meaningful and profound just for me! Then I hear Him say, "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."
Ouch. Maybe that's not the personal message for me.
Have you seen my daughter? She is a sweet baby made of 100% pure goodness… I can't hate her! Let's keep going, Jesus, I like your next points a little better as the Gospel continues. It sounds like you are explaining the value of planning ahead, I can relate to that. But then another curve ball; "Anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.” Yikes. Not sure if my husband would appreciate it if I gave away our cars... or the house. Is this really what Jesus means?
I struggle with the words in this Gospel; the concept that we must hate those closest to us, or give up every single thing we own, in order to be a follower of Christ. It truly sounds extreme, and frankly out of character, coming from Jesus Christ, who is love. But, Jesus is extreme, and sometimes being dramatic gets our attention.
It is out of love for us, that He tells us the truth.
As Christians, we cannot place people or possessions before God.
When I first started dating my husband, we both agreed that our relationship with God was more important than our relationship with each other, and we promised to put God first. When we got married, we then agreed to put one another before our future children. It is not very pleasant or romantic to say, but the truth is that someday, my spouse will die. My children will die. I will die, and my life will became history. I am terrified of losing my husband or daughter, and oftentimes feel crippled by anxiety that something bad will happen to either one of them.
The cold, hard, truth is that we will not live forever, but because all things come from God, all things will return to God.
However, it comforts me to remind myself that I am only borrowing these beautiful souls from God, and they will ultimately return to God.
Despite all of the terror, tragedy, and hatred in the world, I know that God created a beautiful world. He has blessed me with amazing things I cannot quantify, like happiness and love, but also provided me with material objects like a car, home, iPhone, and savings account. But naturally, my family means much more to me than those things that I own.
I’m sure most of us feel this way about the people we love;
I would do anything for my husband and daughter. I would give up everything I have for them, including giving up my life for them. Wait, didn't Jesus already do that for me (and them)?
In speaking so bluntly to capture our attention in today’s Gospel, perhaps Jesus is not literally telling me to dislike my loved ones, or willingly put myself out on the street.
It is possible that He is just asking me to love Him more than I love the life He has given me, people included.
Jesus is telling me that He needs to be my foundation - not my life, not my family, and not my possessions. The message for me is not to hate at all - rather to love Him more.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Carolyn is a happily married wife, and a mother to a beautiful one year old girl. She graduated from Walsh University in 2012 and works full time as a Registered Nurse. In her free time she enjoys going to summer festivals, reading, and cooking and she loves spending time with her family.