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The Word, The Truth

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Homily for Wednesday of the 31st Week in Ordinary Time, 3 November 2021, Lk 14:25-33

There are just two things which I would like to call your attention to with regard to our Gospel today. First, that Jesus was never after mobilizing a mass of blind and fanatical followers. Second, that Jesus was never after breaking families and teaching his disciples to hate their families.

Let me start immediately with the second. If I were with him when he said what Luke tells us he said to his disciples, I would have had no second thoughts about abandoning him, right there and then. Can you even imagine Jesus actually saying, “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”? ANO DAW? That sounds a bit too much, doesn’t it?!

But then again, we have to be reminded that it is Saint Luke who puts those words in the mouth of Jesus. How do you reconcile such words with Jesus’ exhortations to love unconditionally, and to even be ready to lay down your life for the ones you love?

If you reacted the way I did while hearing these words, it means you know Jesus a little better. If you said to yourself, “No, that is not the Jesus that I know.” You are right. That is rather how Jesus was caricatured by those who hated him and who questioned the way of life that he represented.

In Cebuano, there is a versatile word that can change the sense of a whole paragraph—the word KUNO. “Giingon kuno nia.” The Tagalog equivalent is DAW or the more formal DIUMANO, which we hear very often in TV newsreports. When a statement is qualified by a DAW or DIUMANO, it means it is a HEARSAY or a mere allegation. The kind of statement that would make a defense lawyer say in court, “Objection, your Honor. Hearsay!”

That Jesus promoted hate, that he broke families, that he made children disobey their parents—these were just some of the many allegations hurled against him. I imagine Jesus saying “tongue in cheek”—“If anyone comes to me without hating KUNO his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” Or he could also simply suggest putting quotation marks on the term “hating”.

Wat he is saying is, “If you are following me and you are not ready to be named names, or even accused falsely of being a family hater, you cannot be my disciple. Recall what said in the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 5:11 “Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me.”

Now we go to the first: Jesus was never after mobilizing a mass of blind and fanatical followers. The Gospel says, “Great crowds” were following Jesus on the way. Even if Jesus was indeed a crowd-drawer, he wasn’t really that fond of crowds. He actually preferred close personal encounters, one on one.

He knew that people could easily be drawn to “go with the tide” or be carried by the current. Isn’t this the kind of thing we see when a video gets viral and gets a million views? The next two three or ten million views are almost automatic after that. Nadadala sa agos.

This Gospel particularly relevant in this time of election when our discipleship has to find its most concrete expression in the kind of people we elect. Contrary to what many people think, following Jesus is not a purely spiritual, pietistic “me-and-my-God” kind of thing. It is supposed to have concrete and radical implications for our role in society, including the kind of politics that we are promoting by the way we vote.

Yes, it is important to to decide in conscience; but we are also morally obliged to inform and educate our conscience. Yes, it is important to respect each one’s personal political decisions, but we also need to call a spade a spade. We cannot be neutral in the fight between good and evil. No doubt, politics is one area where people will tend to be divided, when individuals can be disowned by family and close relations for making a stand for a more principled kind of politics that is consistent with the Gospel and the social teachings of the Church. Then you will know what Jesus meant when he confronted the crowds about the cost of discipleship.

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Veritas Editorial

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

President of Radio Veritas

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