If any one does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26)
The Lord apparently put this another way, on a different occasion. In Matthew, we read that He said, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me, or son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me.”
No contradiction between these two statements, though. If we consider family loyalty of the utmost importance, which we naturally do. To put our family ties even in second place, after God, after Christ—doing that can seem, to family members who would insist on having first place, like hatred.
But let’s keep going: If anyone comes to me without hating even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.
At yet a different point in His pilgrim life, the Lord Jesus predicted His Passion, and the Jews listening to Him asked, “He is not going to kill himself, is he?”
Whoever does not carry his own cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
Seems to me like we have long since reached the point where successfully interpreting all this is way above my paygrade. So let me quote St. John Chrysostom:
“He means not that we should place a beam of wood on our shoulders, but that we should ever have death before our eyes.”
Always have death before our eyes.
Listen, I love to stay up late and watch election returns as much as the next guy. At the same time, I’m also just as much against “rampant secularism” as the next religious guy. But I think we need to pause and think about what “secularization” really means.
The saeculum, the century, the current age, involves: elections, smartphones, getting married, having children, cars, college basketball seasons, hamburgers, turkeys, Thanksgiving-dinner arguments, highway construction, tv shows and movies, e-mail and appointments, traveling for work and/or pleasure, having a job, sleeping, buying and wearing clothes, catching colds and getting over them.
By all the same tokens, the saeculum, these years in which we live, also provides us with our one and only known opportunity to: praise God, be kind, welcome strangers, help people who need help, seek the truth and stand up for it with courage, learn, read, see beautiful things and listen to beautiful music, grow, expand our minds and hearts by seeking and loving the Good and the True.
To live for this life only is a kind of suicide. By this time next century we will all be dust and ashes. No one will remember even a single one of all the fascinating comments we made.
That said, committing suicide is also a clear form of suicide. These days we have now–they come from God, out of His infinite love. Even the hardest of them–especially the hardest, most painful days—they come as the most precious gifts.
Every second of every minute of every day He gives us serves a purpose: We can love Him and our neighbor right now. Thereby transforming ourselves, little by little, into something that can actually endure forever, like God.