Memorial of Saint Charles Borromeo, bishop
(Philippians 2:12-28; Luke 14:25-33)
When Jesus says that people must hate their parents in order to follow him, his command must be contextualized. The Aramaic language, which he spoke, uses “hate” as a way of saying “not love as much.” In other words, Jesus is telling his disciples that they must love him more than their parents. Today’s patron, Charles Borromeo, understood what Jesus meant. He came from some of the most prominent families in Italy. Yet when his father, Count Borromeo died, Charles declined the headship of his family. He became a priest and was soon made bishop of Milan.
As a young bishop, Borromeo faced the challenge of the bubonic plague of 1576. Rather than leave Milan with the city officials, he stayed behind to organize his clergy and religious in the relief effort. He also personally administered to the sick. Like bishops have done in the pandemic this year, Charles made the difficult decision to close churches to avoid spread of the disease.
In order to follow Jesus, we must not hate anybody. On the contrary, we must love all – even those with whom we feel uncomfortable. This can be a difficult task as is accepting people with different ideas about the danger of Covid. It helps to talk with the people and to pray for them. While we are at it, we might ask God to make us closer followers of Jesus.