“Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbour has fulfilled the law. The commandments, … are summed up in this sentence, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” (Romans 13:8-10)
There seems to be a contradiction between our first reading today and the Gospel passage. While St. Paul is telling us to “owe no one anything except love,” Jesus is saying “if anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”
Of course, St. Paul is right by summarizing the commandments as love for neighbour as oneself. Even Jesus himself said the same thing when He was asked which was the greatest of all the commandments. “He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus is basically telling us that being a Christian is not easy. For the last two days, we have learnt that the Christian life requires going against the conventional; inviting only the poor to your parties, blessing those who offend you, refraining from attacks and curses. Jesus says to us today that being a Christian comes at a huge cost; “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple…”
Unfortunately, there is a brand of Christianity that has become popular in our society; the Christianity of pleasure, comfort and abundance. The church is now labelled a “solution centre”, a place to find anything and everything our hearts desire. Far from being a place of worship, it is now an entertainment centre. Care is taken to make the Christian feel good rather than hear the truth.
St. Paul would say: “For the kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17). Being a Christian shouldn’t just be about receiving miracles, living in riches, and so on. It is following in the footsteps of Christ, walking in the light, living a righteous life. “Whoever does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” Clearly, there are many who claim to be Christians, even leaders of church but are not disciples of Jesus.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, help me live entirely for you. Amen
Bible Study: Romans 13:8-10, Psalm 112 and Luke 14:25-33).