Today’s gospel passage illustrates plainly how the Bible needs to be interpreted correctly by the Magisterium (teaching authority) of the Church and how fundamentalism, prevents people from learning what God is truly revealing us through Holy Scripture.
Luke 14:26 “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 14:33 In the same way anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.
Concerning the 1st statement: What about the fourth commandment of honoring father and mother?
Concerning the 2nd statement: What about our obligations? Don’t we need possessions to provide food, housing, clothing, education and other necessities for ourselves and our loved ones?
How can we do that if we were called to live like monks with the vow of poverty?
Therefore, translating today’s gospel into terms understood by us Westerners, it could sound something like this: “Genuine love and sacrifice are inseparable and in your love for God you are supposed to be willing to sacrifice absolutely everything that you have and place all your trust in him alone.”
How can we accomplish this? Jesus gives two examples of how to go about living a life marked by willingness to sacrifice our comfort and convenience out of love of God and neighbor, and to base our entire life exclusively on the security that God’s loving care guarantees for us.
The assurance of his unfailing love is his Son Jesus on the cross, and the most unique and earthshaking event is the Resurrection, the ultimate display of his infinite power.
Jesus is practically saying: “a life not grounded in reality, lacking the mettle to take reasonable risks and closed to sacrifices is as ludicrous as a half-built tower.”
“A life without perseverance and endurance is as lamentable a failure as a defeat that could have been avoided.”
Most of the stuff that superficial people deem important amounts to fleeting vapors and passing shadows.
I am referring to what is proposed by the secular world as good sources of happiness.
To attain these trivial goals, people do crazy things, embrace inconveniences and risk even alienating their loved ones.
Let me give you two examples: some people are ready to get up in the middle of the night, stand in line outside in the heart of winter to buy the latest gismo, a must-have electronic device. Rock music enthusiasts are ready to do wild things and spend lots of money to attend a concert of their music idol.
But the same people are not ready to make comparable sacrifices for their families or volunteer for a worthy cause such as to defend the sacredness of life.
Similarly, people who mistake lust or infatuation for love break their marital commitment as soon as some difficulties arise, or their spouse proves to be less than perfect.
The concept of enduring hardships, of being patient and forgiving, of making sacrifices for the other, is foreign to their mentality precisely because the world has taught them that it is not necessary to have the resolve to finish the “tower” they have started.
Mind you, I am not talking here about violence or abuse in a marital relationship. No one should stay in a marriage to be abused at every turn, or risking getting seriously hurt or killed. The Church allows for separation and the possibility of annulment.
Jesus is teaching us about the inseparable connection between love and willingness to sacrifice time, comfort, convenience, sleep, money, our very self for those with whom we have chosen to live. He calls it the cross.
Jesus is teaching us to avoid the insidious mentality of adjusting our life’s goals and expectations to our weaknesses and obsessions rather than our skills and talents.
Jesus insists on the crucial importance of daring, of making calculated risks to move out of our comfort zone trusting in God’s limitless power and love for us.
Already the 1st reading (Wisdom 9:13-18) reminds us that our God needs nobody to advise him, to give him suggestions on how to run this world and the whole universe.
What Jesus is adding to the equation is precisely this: the only reasonable and successful way we can love each other, remain committed, persevere, make sacrifices without feeling the burden of what we give up IS by believing in God and by loving him in such a way that our love for our closest human beings (mother/father/siblings, /spouse, etc.) would look like “hatred” by comparison.
All our possessions cannot guarantee true, lasting happiness. Granted that we need conventional security provided, say, by insurance companies; we need to trust our parents, spouses and superiors.
However, we ought to remember that human security can be here today and gone tomorrow. Our loved ones can fail us this very day simply because they are not God but, rather, frail human beings like us.
The “tower” of our life which entails sacrifices of many kinds can be completed only with God and with Jesus at the center of our heart.
The battle against our selfishness, timidity, fears, self-absorption and pride can be won only in the power of the Holy Spirit.
This is true wisdom from above. This is the correct way to live our Christian calling.