8 November 2017
Today we hear of a great crowd following Jesus. We can imagine the scene. Jesus is closely flanked by his Disciples, and surrounding them a throng of people, curious to see if there will be another miracle. The hangers-on were no doubt pushing and shoving for a better position.
Compare that scene to the crucifixion. At the foot of the cross was His mother Mary, John and one or two others. The great crowd ended up being a tiny handful!
Keeping in mind the contrast of these scenes, let’s go back to what Jesus says to this great crowd.
He identifies the cost of being his disciple:
‘If any man comes to me without hating his father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, yes and his own life too, he cannot be my disciple. Anyone who does not carry his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
Breathtaking to say the least.
Jesus’ intended his statement to shock the hearers into a sense of the overriding demands of the Kingdom. These are difficult words to hear and I imagine the great crowd that was following Jesus, quickly dispersed.
The decision to ‘hate’ (in biblical idiom, to hate means to love less) property, wealth and power and even family ties, if they come between us and the kingdom of God, is deeply challenging. Detachment is the key.
It’s true to say that each of us has a set of values that we consider greatest – a centre of gravity around which everything else in our life turns. We all have something in our life that we ‘worship’ – in the sense that we assign it the highest value. This highest value might be money or material things. Perhaps it is power or position – or family.
St. Gregory the Great said this:
“In this world let us love everyone, even though he be our enemy; but let us hate him who opposes us on our way to God, though he be our relative…”
Each encounter with God in the Bible leads to a mission – to do the work of the Lord. If we try to do this work while we are trapped in attachments, we will stumble. If we try to do God’s will while we are worshipping something other than God, we will fail.
No one starts to build without making sure that all the elements are in place and the foundation is laid otherwise she will surely fail. No King sets out to attack his enemy knowing he is grossly outnumbered. In precisely the same way, no one can follow the will of God unless and until he or she has rid him/herself from attachments.
What attachment is holding you back?