We live in a time and culture of charged rhetoric wherein simple disagreements and differences of opinion are labeled as “hate.” What are we to do with the Lord’s words in the Gospel last Sunday about the necessity of hating mother and father, wife and children, brother and sister, and even life itself (St Luke 14:25-33) if we wish to become his disciple?
Hate surpasses disagreement, and certainly the Lord does not mean for us to hate all these relations and life itself with something akin to a “hate crime.” So often the Lord’s hard sayings require a change of perspective if we are to understand the truth behind and within the hard saying. In fact, the definition of a hard saying may well be the necessity of changing our perspective to understand what the Lord is telling us.
The entrance to the change in perspective this hard saying requires may be found in the baptismal covenant. “Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?” In this vow, we find a way into the kingdom (a passage through a looking glass, if you will) to understand what this hard saying conveys to us.
The Lord is telling us, I believe, that we are to find him in all people for their benefit and for ours. We are to range beyond those relationships obligating us to those relationships we begin and make to release his glory to transform the world. If we confine ourselves to the natural and easy relationships well within our comfort zone, we shall do no more than what is expected and easy. We are made for higher things, things that reveal the glory of God by underscoring the unity we have in our common humanity which is the unity we discover in the image of God we find in someone very different from us.
When we change our perspective from a narrow glimpse to a panoramic vista of the Lord’s will and desire for us, we become more fully human. By becoming more fully human we become more fully God’s.
It’s a stretch for us all. But it’s a stretch toward an eternal agility and limberness.