Memorial of Saint Charles Borromeo, bishop
(Romans 13:8-10; Luke 14:25-33)
St. Charles Borromeo’s mother was a d’ Medici and his uncle, a pope. In sixteenth century Italy this might have translated into easy street. But Charles did not pursue a life of comfort. Even as the cardinal-archbishop of Milan, it is said that he lived an ascetic life. Certainly he vigorously implemented the necessary reforms to keep the Church intact. He may be seen as having taken seriously Jesus’ admonition in today’s gospel.
The passage sounds incredible to many hearers. Can Jesus really mean what he is saying, they ask? He is telling the people that to be his disciples they must hate even their own parents. The answer is yes and no. Luke’s gospel translates an Aramaic expression that literally means hate but more precisely means turn away from. Actually the expression is not different from colloquial English where people say, “I hate broccoli.” It means that they turn away from it. To be Jesus’ disciple then means to leave behind the prejudices that they learned at home.
The effort sounds easier to do than it is in reality. We like ridiculing others because it makes us feel better than they. It is difficult to turn away from our sinfulness and turn to God for mercy. Yet this is the first step in the walk of discipleship with Jesus.