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….”
Today’s reading is reminiscent of another passage:
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth.
I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.
For I have come to turn a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law —
a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.”
Sobering words indeed.
I don’t know why a popular image of Jesus the Christ is that of an epicene, meek and mild man. Is it because our Lord willingly allowed Himself to be tortured and executed on a cross?
But the truth is that the Jesus described in the canonical Gospels is neither meek nor mild nor unmasculine. A carpenter by trade, He was muscular and strong. He got angry with the moneychangers in the Temple and overturned their tables — nothing mild about that. He took on the élite Pharisees and was outspoken in denouncing them, calling them children of the Devil and the synagogue of Satan. He spoke with complete authority and captured the rapt attention of an audience of thousands –remember the miracle of loaves and fishes? He told His followers not to be wimps, instructing them that “if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one” (Luke 22:36).
All of which is hardly the behavior or demeanor of a meek, mild, effeminate, wimpy man.
And, as in the above passages from Luke 14:25-27 and Matthew 10:34-36, He warned us again and again that following Him won’t be easy and that we will be hated and persecuted simply because of His name, because we are His followers.
Luke 21:12, 16-19
“[T]hey will seize and persecute you,
they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons,
and they will have you led before kings and governors
because of my name….
You will even be betrayed by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends,
and they will put some of you to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.
Stand firm, and you will win life.”
For, as His followers, we are not of this world. Thus, the powers and all who are of this world will always hate and persecute us. And by their hate, we will know who they are (John 8:44).
So gird your loins.
Stand firm and be strong!
May the peace and love and courage of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you,