Memorial of Saint Martin de Porres, religious
(Philippians 2:12-18; Luke 14:25-33)
Gospel commentators call Jesus’ shocking statement that his followers are to hate their families a “Semiticism.” This means that it was a way of expressing oneself in the Semitic language that Jesus spoke. Evidently his native Aramaic did not use comparatives. For Jesus to indicate that his disciples have to love him more than their families, he has to say that they must love him and hate their families. Of course, he does not mean that they are to scorn their loved ones. After all, how could Jesus, who taught the primacy of love of God and neighbor, mean that we are to literally hate those who are closest to us?
But some of us may have difficulty with the idea of even loving Jesus more than family and friends. “How can he expect us to love him more than our mothers who gave us life?” we might ask ourselves. It is a formidable task but also a fruitful one. We are to make Jesus our best friend, more intimate than even a spouse. This is done by constant dialogue on all subjects, especially those that concern us most.
A painting hanging in the Dominican generalate’s convent in Rome shows Jesus and St. Catherine of Siena walking side-by-side. The two are not talking to each other directly but rather meditating on the written word. Catherine’s red-colored book is probably the Book of Gospels, the story of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection. Jesus’ white-colored book is likely the virgin Catherine’s gentle words to him. All of us can engage in this kind of dialogue intensifying our love for our Savior. We can meditate on the gospel and respond perhaps with a journal telling the Lord how we love him and need him.