Jesus sounds like a dangerous extremist on the 23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C,when he says we have to hate our family — and even our own lives — to follow him.
But he also gives us the perfect analogy to understand why he is not asking something crazy and wrong.
In fact, Jesus is not the extremist, we are, and Jesus calls us out. We already reject our families for things far less important than God.
“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,” says Jesus in this Sunday’s Gospel, from Luke. As in his account of the Beatitudes, Luke likes to share the most emphatic expressions of Jesus. In Matthew, Jesus says, “He who loves father or mother … son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”
In both cases the meaning is the same: Our ultimate allegiance is often misplaced. Our actions too often say we love work more than our families, our addictions more…