Homily – September 8, 2019

In the near future we’ll be getting ready for an election and politicians of every stripe will be making promises of how they are going to make life better for all of us. Naturally they’ll try to outdo one another. No one will challenge us to tighten our belts and be prepared for leaner times. They’ll give lip service to the life and death reality of climate change. But as we all know, a politician and his promises are soon parted.

We read in today’s gospel that large crowds followed Jesus. They listened to what he had to say. Sometimes what he had to say was too much for them and we’re told that many of his disciples walked with him no more. Jesus let that be their decision but never watered down what he had to say. At the same time he didn’t want to let their enthusiasm carry them away when they saw exercise power over evil spirit, when he made a leper clean or a lame man dance, or a blind man see. He was there for everyone, rich or poor. Jesus hid himself from the men and women who wanted to take him by for and make him king. Jesus was not into popularity contests.

But Jesus let them know following him would not be a walk in the park. His words in today’s gospel are pretty harsh to our ears. His word ‘hate’ is out of sync with his other teachings about love and acceptance. Scripture scholars were telling us that the best translation of the word hate is prefer or choose.

Choosing Jesus is thus equivalent to letting one’s family go, letting popularity go, letting power or prestige go, letting the good life and the good times go and living a life of love and acceptance and service of others. Choosing to follow Jesus means we prefer him over wealth, power, popularity, pleasures.

In a way Jesus offers us an either or proposition. Of course family is important; of course financial stability is important, of course a career is important, of course friends are important. But if any of these compromise our relationship, our fidelity to Jesus, our Christ who died on the cross for us, they have to go.

It can be an issue we face many times in our lives in the choices we have to make. May we be strong enough, faithful enough to make the right choice by choosing Christ, who loved us and gave his life for us.