Romans 13.8-10; Ps 111; Luke 14.25-33
It is a bit surprising to encounter in the first reading St Paul’s summation that ‘Love … is the answer to every one of the commandments’ and then in the Gospel Our Lord’s admonition to hate one’s family. Clearly the Semitic predilection for exaggeration is part of what is at work here!
But it is also true that the universalism of the commandment to ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ inevitably comes into conflict with the special relationships that define most of our lives. Discipleship demands an exclusivity of devotion; Jesus’ parables often illustrate this in dramatic and astonishing ways. What he asks of us, though, is not a literal hatred for anyone but, rather, a relativising of all commitments that distract us from the imperatives of discipleship. To carry one’s cross and follow him means to take up the burden of our own lives, a responsibility that finally transcends all other associations and affiliations. Possessions, whether property or other kinds of attachments, can impede that genuine discipleship in which we not only learn from him but also grow to resemble him.