Now large crowds were travelling with him; and he turned and said to them, ‘Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.  (Luke 14.25,26)


         JESUS was not interested in whether or not crowds followed him. Crowds will follow a rock star or a charismatic politician, or counter-politician, for a while, for as long as the “greatest hits” keep coming or the rhetoric suits. But following Christ is not an entertainment, an escape from the mundane or miserable side of life and it is not a spectator sport. Jesus does not do “greatest hits”!

Just like the spiritual masters of the East, the American Indians or the Ancient Celts, Jesus knows we have to be taught how to see. Sometimes that means we need to be shocked out of our mind-sleep. “That’s what religion is for” says Richard Rohr, “to help us let go of illusions and pretenses so we can be more and more present to what actually is. That’s why the Buddha and Jesus both say with one voice, ‘Be awake.’ Jesus talks about “staying watchful” (Matthew 25:13, Luke 12:37, Mark 13:33-37), and “Buddha” literally means ‘I am awake’ in Sanskrit” (Daily Reflections 30/08/16).

Of course Jesus does not want us to hate our families and friends, or our lives. It would be ridiculous to think that he does! But there is a startling and jolting reality in what he is saying in the quotation above. However hard we might try to arrange things to the contrary, we are, each one of us, just passing through in this material world. Our lives and loves do not belong to us. One day we will have no choice but leave all that’s still here behind. If we are to be awake in this life, if we are to be able to see, then we have to learn to let go. We have to learn to love and yet not be attached. To cling to someone is not to love them but to restrict and bind them. To love means to let go. To cling to life is not to live but to constrict that life with our own debilitating fear. If we let go the fear, let go all attachment, disengage ourselves from all neediness, then we will be free. We will set others free. We will be free to “travel with Jesus”, free to see that the kingdom of heaven really is upon us.

~ by Fr Tim Ardouin on September 1, 2016.

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