When I was a child pastors, parents, teachers always reminded me love your parents, love your parents. And that was very important thing to follow. And today's Gospel says, Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me. When I read this passage in my childhood, I couldn't understand what does it mean. I was confused. I read again and again. Let me be frank, I didn't understand. Is Jesus asking to hate parents? I was confused again. I asked one of my religious teachers. She said, John, to understand this passage you have to understand Jesus' time. When Jesus started his ministry, we are talking about 2000 years ago, many people started following him. This created confusion among many family members. Take example of a family: Mother started following Jesus, then her husband and children started hating her for following Jesus. The house became divided. So in that situation, Jesus wanted to encourage his people to love Jesus more than parents, children or siblings.
This is the reason Jesus says, 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. Jesus is not saying hate parents, children or siblings. Jesus is saying give preference to him when you come across the matter between God and relationships. We all know if we really love Jesus, it's natural that we will live our parents, siblings, children.
Opting for Jesus, preferring Jesus more than anything is still a challenge today. You might be experiencing this in your work place, family. You must be experiencing hatred from family, friends, colleagues and society for loving Jesus.
We have friar priest named Manilal Christian. He was a Hindu, he must be the only Hindu I know who became a catholic priest, and he knew Jesus when he was in high school. He left the family to join the Franciscans. His family didn't like him doing this. They thought he is betraying their faith. But he was strong. He is still with us, he is guardian of our provincial house. He preferred Jesus more than his parents and siblings.
I remember another story of a father of a Franciscan priest. He has two sons and one of them came to USA for work and he realized Jesus's calling him. He left job and joined capuchin franciscans. This priest's father was managing a bar attached restaurant - serves alcohol. Alcohol is a social evil in India. Many of our men is alcoholic and abuse their family. It's so heartbreaking to see it. This man made much money from selling alcohol, and he was rich in his town. As his son's ordination date approached, he sold the bar attached restaurant. He said Jesus is more worthy than making money. Jesus is worthier than anything else in the life.
If we really love Jesus, we may have to make choices like this. That's known as the cost of our discipleship. Today let us reflect how much preference are we giving to Jesus. Are we taking challenges to love Jesus. Are we taking our crosses to follow Jesus?
Fr. John Pozhathuparambil