Reflection: Twenty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m.

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

Bible study/sharing every Saturday (2:00-4:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church, 5 Leicester Place WC2H 7BX (near See Woo Chinese Supermarket, Leicester Square tube station)

Talk and discussion meeting First Tuesday of every month (4:00-6:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church

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[1st Reading – Wis.9:13-18; Ps.89; 2nd Reading – Phim.9-10,12-17; Gospel – Lk.14:25-33]

“COME AFTER ME”

It is strange how Jesus uses the verb “to hate” in his teaching in today’s Gospel and to hear him say that to be his disciple and follow him one must ‘hate’ “his father, his mother, his wife, his children, his brothers, his sisters and even his own self”. It seems to be in direct contradiction to his own teaching when he says that his disciple must “love” his neighbour as himself. In today’s teaching Jesus mentions the family members and he seems to be very specific about not leaving any intimate member out (with the exception of the “husband” because it is to them whom he is addressing his teaching!). These are all direct and dear family members who are the apple of the eye to each other! In terms of relationship, there is no one in the world dearer than these family members – so why are they expected to “hate” any one of these close family members just to follow a “stranger”?

In Semitic languages, the verb “to hate” has a slightly different meaning to what we understand in our own language. In the language which Jesus used, “to hate” is referring to the act of “distancing oneself from”. The words “to distance” and “to hate” in Semitic languages have the same roots. Thus, when Jesus tells his disciples that every one of them has “to hate” his dearest family members, he is telling them that every one of them has “to distance” himself from these persons in order to “near” himself to Jesus. It is in this way that one can truly become a true follower of Jesus. This is not easy to achieve and Jesus acknowledges this by comparing this difficulty to carrying one’s own cross, while following and imitating him. This distancing oneself from his dearest ones, to near to Jesus, is to be done after one has “sat down and worked out all the cost”. We are not talking about cost in terms of monetary value – what cost, therefore, are we talking about? Let us take ‘love’ as an example. Our dearest ones can show us love and can teach us to love which starts and ends in our family environment – we may call it “egoistic” love which is borne out of the gratification of who we are to each other. If we near ourselves to God, the love that He shares with us (through his creation) has its source/starting point from Him, which passes through us who are “near” to Him and through us this love continues to channel to all His creatures. Once we are “near” to God, our own love experience in our family would simply be part of God’s plan to show us and to give us the possibility of experiencing His own particular and eternal love for each and every one of us!

“Lord Jesus Christ, give us the knowledge to respect and love each member of our family. At the same time Lord, give us the strength and the wisdom to respectfully distance ourselves from them to be able to near ourselves to you. In this way, we are sure that you will give us the help we need to be nearer to them too. Thank you Lord!”

 

Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo http://www.stpatrickwaterloo.org.uk/ )

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