“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me….” What a challenging demand! Doesn’t that sound like some possessive love that puts us in competition? I’m curious to understand what this demand of Jesus means for me. Are you not?
Bible readings 2 Kings 4: 8-11, 14-16 Psalm 89: 2-3, 16-19 Romans 6: 3-4, 8-11 Matthew 10: 37-42
My feeling towards this Gospel text
Possessive love is one source of conflict among friends, most especially in marriage. It’s the demand for privileged attention to the point that we act like we possess the person whom we love or want to love us. And one sign of this possessiveness is to claim the first place. In our daily relationships when that happens it’s like the liberty of the other person becomes limited by the demands and boundaries we impose on him. Never heard of someone who went as far as even checking on the other to see who he’s talking to? Unfortunately, there are relationships which have so degenerated that they are constantly on security-camera kind of.
That’s why reading the words of Jesus: “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me….” my reaction is: hey Jesus, wait a minute! I have few things to check with you: Is there a conflict between my love for you and my love for my family so much that I need to put them on the balance?
But Jesus, let me explain one thing
Well, I want to be sure. Firstly, I see my love for my family as legitimate and in no way in conflict with my being your follower. That’s why I’m curious to understand what you want to tell me by this gospel. I see myself as your follower without necessarily renouncing members of my family or loving them less –but the contrary. In fact, it’s from my family that I learnt to know you and to love you. And if today I can serve you as priest it’s because I have received love and support from my family and my friends. They are a springboard from where I can dare jumping into your service and into the service of others.
No, not possessive love!
But I’m aware, Jesus, all you asking me is to be conscious that following you is a decisive choice that demands an unwavering commitment. And to drive the point home, you touch what’s most intimate –family. You challenge me to check the possible obstacles that may come from me or from those things I consider dear and legitimate. You evoke the importance of liberty if I really want to be fully your disciple. In that case, I should be ready to reconsider other relationships that I maintain and see how they fit in this choice I have made to be your disciple.
However, I’m sure, there’s no opposition between the love that I have for others and for you. In fact, it’s not question of measuring how much love for you, for my family or for my friends; love is never calculated in percentages. Wherever there’s a relationship worthy of the name love –it’s always total. Besides, I can live my commitment as your follower only through my relationships with others –my family included. Perhaps, I only need to take care so that my family does not become a ghetto affair –I belong to universal family called humanity. And that makes any other person a brother or sister of mine. Jesus, if you agree with what I say, then, here’s my response to your apparently hard word.
My response to this Gospel
So what do I make of this Gospel? Firstly, I have no worries. I know, you just cannot drag me into possessive love or measuring my love. That just cannot come from you. Instead, you are opening for me a door of liberty to choose and commit myself.
And appreciating the important role my family has played in my journey with you, here’s my response to your message: I carry in my thoughts and prayer families, especially those that may be struggling. May they be nurseries where both parents and children may learn to know you, love you and finally to choose you.
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