(55) – Jesus said: He who shall not hate his father and his mother cannot be my disciple, and (he who does not) hate his brethren and his sisters and take up his cross like me shall not be worthy of me.
This saying is very much like Matthew 10:37-38 – 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; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me.
I’ve chosen this saying as the Marrhew version is also dealt with in the 26th week of the Ignatian Online Retreat I once took. It seems to me there are two parts of the saying to address – (1) the relationship issues of loving family vs loving God, and (2) the idea of taking up one’s cross.
– at the time and place of Jesus’ words, family relationships were incredibly important to an individul’s identity and social standing. His advice to hate one’s family would have been offensive to most who heard it, but for Jesus, family ties were less significant than ties to God.
When taking the retreat, the message of this 26th week really disturbed me … it seemed to ask me to abandon my family. And it seemed to ask me to quantify love. I’m not sure I even know what love is – if asked to rate my relationships in terms of how much I loved each person, well, I’d be in trouble. But perhaps being a disciple doesn’t involve so much a contest to see who you love the most, but more a realization that committment, loyalty, responcibility, love, are defining issues in discipleship.
– I’m not sure what it means exactly to take up one’s cross but it sounds lethal! 🙂 When taking the retreat, I was struck by two thoughts … I was too cowardly to want to take up my cross and, I was a bit angry with Jesus for asking me to do so. How could he ask those he loved to put themselves in danger?
Then I thought about what taking up the cross might have meant to Jesus at the time he spoke these words … he’d been preaching a message that was bound to get him killed. He knew this and he had a few close calls where he was almost arrested but managed to slip away. Yet he didn’t stop, didn’t go into hiding, didn’t change his message. To be true to himself, he had no other choice but to continue doing the thing that would likely send him to the cross. I don’t think he chose to die, chose the cross, for its own sake. The cross was an inevitable consequence of the way he led his life. Perhaps the exhortation to take up our crosses is an exhortation to live life with the courage of our convictions … even to the death.
Saying #55 is a very challenging one for me … it asks me to re-orient my relationships and to be vulnerably true to my ideals. I’d like to take the romantic/heroic stance and say I aspire to the challenge, but I’ll be honest instead … to be asked to put aside familiar loves and to take a dangerous route to the kingdom of God is probably beyond my discipleship abilities.