“Anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.” I know, the first reaction to that passage is like really!? Even before that, the passage “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” One might be totally turned off or totally confused. When I read these sayings of Jesus I think immediately of the friars I went to school with at Quincy University who have totally renounced all their possessions and share all things in common. Really what Jesus is talking about here in strong language is the practice of detachment.
Pope Francis has talked about detachment as well when he speaks of fostering a culture of encounter. Essentially, as we reflect upon these readings something we should remember is that relationships come before things. Even more so our relationship with our creator, with God, ought to come first before all others. This isn’t to say that we shun other relationships in favor of God in a dramatic sense, but rather, realize within each relationship the goodness of God.
So, what can you do to detach yourself from things? What can you do to re-connect with God more closely? I think one of the quickest realizations come, when we realize how much time we spend looking at a screen versus the time we spend with physical relationships.
The other realization comes when we ask ourselves what quality of relationships we have online? Do we foster a combative relationship with others, or do we encourage others to goodness towards truth with positivity? How well do we know those who we interact with on the internet? These are just a few good questions to reflect upon as you interact with people online.
Ultimately God is a God of encounter, think of how he encountered Moses, how he became incarnate or flesh as Jesus Christ. God wishes to visit us personally and intimately, not just from a distant cloud. Sometimes receiving a personal invitation requires us to put down ‘things’ and turn off ‘notifications’ to receive in our heart the joy of a good relationship. This is something we can all relate to.
When we speak of simple family dynamics or even at the workplace we can make a similar examination. Do we realize the goodness of God in each relationship by fostering the good? Sometimes that requires the three simple phrases: ‘Please, Thank You, & I’m Sorry.’ Often times this means being patient, especially when patience hasn’t been afforded to us. Being persistent at serving God is not easy work, but it does make for what Jesus calls discipleship and the renouncement of attachment to personal pride or things or always being right. ‘hating’ our father or mother may simply be the action of disdaining certain offenses, yet being of the mind that Gods law of freedom is above all people and in our very hearts. Then we must ‘hate our very selves’ by refraining from correcting or criticizing others but rather making every effort to positively build others up in Christ and in charity.
Jesus startling words are meant to shake us up and evaluate how we spend our time and to whom or what we devote ourselves. Perhaps this Sunday will be a good time to commit to making personal encounters with others, to detach ourselves from needing things, and to foster the beauty in the relationships we have with those around us. By renouncing or leaving behind our need for things and refocusing our need on God who is the source of all goodness we will be able to be more centered and ultimately more connected to those around us. As a thought given by soon to be canonized (this weekend) Mother Theresa of Calcutta “If we pray we will believe, if we believe we will love, if we love we will serve.”
 Luke 14:33
 Luke 14:26
 cf. Luke 14:26
 John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, (Holy See: Rome, 2003), par. 1-5.
 cf. Luke 14:26
Husband & father of four, graduate from Quincy University and currently a grad student at Franciscan University. Director of Faith Formation & Youth Ministry for All Saints Parish since 2011.