Am I the only one feeling confused by Sunday’s Gospel? Am I to hate my own family in order to follow Jesus? Doesn’t Jesus (or the translators of the Gospel to English) know that hate is a very strong word?
Of course, Jesus is not talking about your dislike of a family member who seems to oppose every viewpoint you hold, rather, he is preaching to us about the need for detachment (a word to mark off if you’re playing Jesuit bingo). In other words, we need to let go of our desire to control people and things.
We (humanity) can be far too reliant on our possessions and a bit obsessed with seeing how much we can own. I mean, one must only look at the news to see how greed can get the best and worst of us. And has it done much good for the world? Environmental damage, border walls, conflict, corruption, abuse—all caused by people who decided that they deserved more than everyone else. Well-articulated talking points can convince someone that certain actions are taken for the sake of protection and for the common good. However, Jesus seems to see right through this all:
“Which of you wishing to construct a tower
does not first sit down and calculate the cost
to see if there is enough for its completion?”
The cost isn’t simply referring to currency. It’s important to ask, are you doing this all for you?
“In the same way,
anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions
cannot be my disciple.”
But what does this mean for us who are not the big movers and shakers? What does detachment look like? Aren’t we allowed to have our homes, our families, and our livelihoods?
Detachment is the freedom to let go. It means building a house not for the sake of collecting possessions, but for building family and community. It means understanding that not everyone in a family will always agree, but we remain united through our commitment to create a space where all belong. It means assuming a role not for the sake of power, but for the purpose of helping others flourish during their time here on earth. Value is only appreciated by our willingness to let go.
When will we realize that God alone is enough?
“In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.”
Josh Utter is originally from Madison, WI, and a graduate of Loras College in Dubuque, IA. Based in Washington, D.C., Josh is the outreach and advocacy coordinator for Jesuit Refugee Service/USA. He also currently serves as a resident minister on Georgetown University’s campus. Prior to his work in work in D.C., Josh was a Peace Corps volunteer in Sierra Leone and spent time in discernment with the Midwest Jesuits.