Great crowds were traveling with Jesus, and he turned and addressed them, “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. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion? Otherwise, after laying the foundation and finding himself unable to finish the work the onlookers should laugh at him and say, ‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’ Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down and decide whether with ten thousand troops he can successfully oppose another king advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops? But if not, while he is still far away, he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms. In the same way, every one of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.”
REFLECTION: Saint Luke, in today’s Gospel, proposes to us how to be a true disciple. But let us remember that God always takes the initiative in calling us to follow Him. Saint Luke mentions the qualities required to be a disciple and he divides it in three parts.
First, we must be people of “hate” (14:26). Just to be clear, the word “hate” in this Gospel passage is not the same as the sin of hate and anger. The meaning in today’s Gospel is to love less. To be a disciple, we must be willing to love our family less and love Jesus more. This does not mean not to love our families, rather to be a true disciple we must love God over everyone else. When we are faced with the painful choice of loyalty to family versus loyalty to Jesus, we must choose Jesus. Even if our family members disown us—or worse—for being Christians, we must follow Christ. It is in this sense that we are “hating” our family. Jesus’ command to “hate father and mother” requires us not to compromise our relationship with Jesus over our relationship with parents, siblings, and other family members.
Second, we must be willing to “carry the cross” (14:27). What can this mean? It means we must die to our own will and our own desires and follow Jesus to the point of giving up our own life, as many martyrs before us have done. It means giving up our own agenda, and obeying and following Jesus as He leads us in all areas of our life. We must become followers and dependent of Jesus, not going our own way, doing our own thing.
Third, a willingness to renounce all our possessions will also be necessary (14:33). This means that we must be willing to release our love of our possessions in our hearts, recognizing that what we own has always belonged to God. This action reminds me of the Gospel of Matthew 6:21 which says; “For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” Therefore, we must often make an inventory of what are treasures are.
ACTION FOR THE DAY: Today, reflect upon Jesus’ radical teaching, or demands, to truly follow Him. Let these teachings resonate deep in your heart in the way our Lord meant them. Work to giving up your own agenda and obey and follow Jesus as He leads you in all areas of your life and with God’s help, this will allow you to better hear our Lord calling you to a life of radical holiness.
Lastly, I could not help to end without sharing with you one of my favorite prayers. The Prayer of Abandonment, written by Saint Charles de Foucauld. Pray it often and share it with others!
I abandon myself into your hands; do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me, and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.Into your hands I commend my soul;
I offer it to you
with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands,
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father.