Saying #55 / C

(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.

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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.

Relationships
– 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.

The Cross
– 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.

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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.

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7 responses

  1. That’s not what it means, Crystal, IMHO. In the Bible hate was one of those words with a special connotation: it meant not to regard. In the dualistic thought frame so common in the Bible (and in current thinking as well) to hate means not to love me over God.And we see this happen every day; men and women putting their family above God, in fact rejecting God on their behalf. It happens, believe me.This is what Jesus was talking about– and using his usual hyperbolic language. (I understand that middle easterners still do that. In contrast our Southerner is addicted to understatement. “I don’t like that man,”, the mountain says as he sends a bullet into his enemy’s heart.

  2. We begin with honesty about where we are. And then look towards where we want to grow. I think admiting you don’t want to take up the cross is a good start — you have to know its there before you pick it up.

  3. “Perhaps the exhortation to take up our crosses is an exhortation to live life with the courage of our convictions … even to the death….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”.Wow, Crystal, I like how you put that. To live my life with the courage of my convictions…to put aside familiar loves and to take a dangerous route to the kingdom…Isn’t it funny how God will speak to your soul? I’ve been thinking, well worrying really, about a trip I’m taking soon to see my family. There are my parents and 9 of us kids. We are a mixed bunch, but easily sorted into Christian/Non-Christian. Whereas in the past I used to worry about being with the Nons, now I’m a little worried about the other group. In my family, Christian has a very narrow definition and I don’t really fit in that box any longer.I seem to relate with folks outside of church better than the ones inside now. My churchy family members get a little stiff and edgy around me.So I’ve been trying to determine “how to be”. I have this thing, lately, about being real, authentic. But with family, it gets touchy. I don’t like to hurt anyone or worry anyone. So these verses, along with your thoughts, have really helped me to see the importance of staying true to my soul, to my own spiritual path. I’ll need grace to be loving without being false about who I am and where I stand with God.Anyway, thanks. This has really helped me. Peace.

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  5. Twyla – thanks for your kind words. But I don’t want to give you the wrong impression … I’m not always authentic and hardly ever have the courage of my convictions. For instance, I’m not honest in my relationship with my stepfather. I’m still mad at him for how he treated me as a kid, but I don’t say anything because it would make everyone upset and hurt his feelings and I really hate confrontations.

  6. Dear Crystal,When you write, “…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,” I was really struck with something. I agree that taking up the cross and moving forth with the courage of our convictions perhaps is a great challenge. However, to be asked to put aside familiar loves and “enter the kingdom of God” does not (to me) necessarily connote such a dangerous challenge. This love is so close to you already – it is within you as we speak, it has always been within you. Realizing this love is to be very awake to the seeds of love growing everywhere. For example, right now, you are held with such tenderness by God, and you are gifted each day and night with a miraculous world waiting to be discovered. This treasure is within you. Fall easily and gently and fully in love with that! This truly is within your dicipleship abilities – it has always been.

  7. Meredith is surely right. The love of God does not diminish any other (real) love that we may have. It enhances it 100 fold.When you love God, it spreads out to include everyone: your family, friends, enemies, flowers, rocks, on and on. There’s no limit.Jesus by no means meant that we should not love our (former) loved ones.

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