Not your possessions!
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
The Gospel today is a little troubling. Jesus talks about hating our family members and even our life. He says we have to hate these if we want to be his disciple. What??? What happened to "Love your neighbour as yourself"?
Is Jesus stressed out again?
At the very end of the Gospel reading he gives a clue as to what he is talking about. he says,
"none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions."
Well, hang on a second. He started by talking about family. My family are not my possessions. I already know that. I know I belong to them and them to me. But perhaps "belong" is not a good word to use, because it is too close to the word "belongings," or things that I own, like "possessions." I don't own my family. And I don't control them. They are gifts from God.
Do I treat them like gifts from God?
My life, too, is a gift from God. It is not a possession either. I don't own it. It is gift, and I am grateful for it. (Have I thanked God for this gift lately? Whoops. I will now.)
So, when Jesus says to the crowd following him, "Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple," maybe he means, "whoever does not realize that all these are gift--they do not belong to you--is not really following me, because my eyes are on God who gives all to us."
We know that hate breaks bonds between people and that is not a good thing. So maybe when Jesus speaks of hating family and our lives, maybe he means breaking the bonds that are not healthy--the bonds of possessions.
Then, new bonds will form. The healthy bonds of love and gratitude. Our eyes will be on Jesus, whose eyes are on God, and we will follow, together with our family.