Let’s clear the air here a little. We start today’s readings with Saint Paul telling us that we owe nothing to others except to love each other. (Romans 13:8) Then we get to the Gospel, and Jesus hits us with:
"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.” (Luke 14:26)
Now, here the word hate means total dedication (family taking second place) according to the footnotes in Scripture. But, boy, is it still like hitting a wall after all that talk about love. Perhaps sometimes love can look a little harsh.
And more often than not, practicing our Christian love within our families can look, well, not a lot like love. Maybe you look like a jerk when you say “No, we can’t attend that event because we’re going to Mass” or “I love you enough to tell you the thing you don’t want to hear.” Sometimes, the loving thing to do is the most uncomfortable thing to do, and it can feel like the easier thing is just back down. I love my family, but I cannot love them more than Christ.
Jesus isn’t calling us to do the easy thing. He is calling us to the Cross.
The Cross is messy. The Cross is hard. Sometimes, the Cross is very, very heavy. But we have the great privilege of partaking in the mystery of redemption when we take up our own cross (as big or as little as it seems) and walk that road to Calvary with our Lord. At the end of that journey is the victory of life.
Has practicing Christian love in your family caused some hurt feelings? Are you struggling to know when to speak up on sensitive issues? Consult a trusted priest or faithful friend. Reach out for support.
Jacqueline Skemp is a daughter, sister, wife, and mother who endures living in Minnesota after leaving California for her one true love. You can find out more about her here.