Well that escalated quickly! As a less than awesome Christian, this gospel passage has always intimidated me. Recently, on retreat a priest sort of eased a little bit of the burden by saying this passage doesn’t necessarily have to be interpreted literally. I’d like to share with you what I walked away with and then reflected on further to come up with.
I don’t think to be the body of Christ we have to be isolated from our families, face persecutions, or lose all of our earthly materials. I also don’t think that if we don’t interpret this text literally it detracts from its message. I think God doesn’t want us to hate our families and ourselves. I think he wants us to realize our own faults and to be in solidarity with the lonely, the abandoned, and the isolated. I don’t think God wants us to seek out persecution, but I do think that if others have died for our faith, then we ought to live for it. I think facing persecutions, taking up a cross, means not compartmentalizing. Acting Christian isn’t easy, acceptable, or polite sometimes. We should try whenever possible not to be combative, but being Christian means be certain no one in being objectified or ostracized. It means speaking out which is hard and which is scary. Finally I don’t think we need to abandon all earthly possessions. As the phrase goes- we need to be in the world, but not of it.
I think the first reading promises that although leading a good life and following Christ is difficult and demanding, we are not alone. God has given us the desire and the means. We just have to pray for the courage to act.
“For God is the one who, for his good purpose,
works in you both to desire and to work.”