The Pope obviously did not get the memo. Just this past May the Pope published, “The Joy of Love,” an exhortation encouraging love in marriage and the family. But in today’s gospel lesson Jesus said: “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters… cannot be my disciple!”
Jesus does not of course mean that we are really to hate our family. What Jesus is doing in today’s gospel lesson is using exaggeration to get his listeners’ attention. [Think of a politician on the campaign trail trying to get people’s attention. Not to name names, but it seems that some will say just about anything to get people’s attention!] But what Jesus says in today’s gospel not only gets people’s attention, but also helps introduce his message.
What I hear in today’s gospel lesson is an invitation from Jesus to follow. Following him will be an adventure, Jesus suggests, and will not always be easy.
1) Following will require us to re-consider our priorities:
“Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children… and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.”
2) Following Jesus will require careful self-examination, to assess whether we are ready for the adventure, and whether following is what we really want:
“For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it?”
“Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand?”
3) Jesus tells us that following him is likely to require sacrifice…
“Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”
4) … and that our “possessions” can make it hard for us to follow:
“So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.”
Jesus invites us to follow. As we consider this morning’s Gospel lesson and Jesus’ invitation to follow, I invite us to consider whether we are up to the adventure, what our priorities are, to what extent are we willing to sacrifice, and in what ways might our possessions be getting in our way.