The terms of peace
“Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even their own life, cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:26
How can hate be the foundation of discipleship?
This is an example of Biblical hyperbole or overstatement to shock people into attending more carefully to what Jesus is really saying. The previous material in Luke stressed the absolute gratuity of the kingdom. Now we are told to make the kingdom the absolute priority of our life.
Bible commentaries explain that the double negative of “whoever comes to me and does ‘not hate’ father, mother….. cannot be my disciple” actually implies: does ‘not prefer less’ father, mother…. We speak like this all the time when someone asks how we are and we use the double negative: “not bad” which indirectly means good.
But this hate verse is a great attention getter. Some Bible commentaries like to describe this as calling for absolute loyalty to God, others stress absolute commitment. Perhaps the best word to capture this challenge is priority because priority indicates what is to be first among many loyalties and commitments. When God is our priority then accepting God’s love comes first. Then we will be able to truly love ourselves and our family, the stranger and even the enemy.
If God is not our priority, then our love will be shallow and very conditional. We won’t really be able to forgive and love ourselves and others. We might be committed to them, loyal to them but we may not be able to truly love them. In fact, we might find ourselves using them to satisfy our own desperate neediness which only God can satisfy. Parents may use their children to fulfill their needs and pastors their parishes. Since they can’t actually fulfill these needs, we may end up hating them, ourselves and maybe even God.
When God’s kingdom of love is our priority all our social relationships and possessions take their proper place in our life. When God is our priority then we can love without strings attached to our love objects.
By making God a priority everything else becomes simpler and easier even carrying our own cross. Carrying our cross is living out our vocation. It is easier and simpler the more that we make God our priority. This is how we discover the terms of peace for our life.
By Mark Blom, OMI – Vocation Director OMI Lacombe Canada
To contact Fr. Mark for advice about discernment and vocation direction. He can meet with you by phone to conduct a short vocation assessment to help you find your way. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange for an appointment.