Hating People, Secularization, and Suicide

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.

elgrecochristcrossBut 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.

St John Chrysostom in St PatricksThe 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.

Land of the Free

church of all nations

…Thanks to the wonders of internet technology, I am sitting here in the empty ballroom of a huge Jerusalem hotel listening to the second quarter of the Redskins-Broncos game. Suprisingly close! Go ‘Skins!

…This morning we celebrated Holy Mass at the rock where the Lord Jesus agonized in the Garden of Gethsemane. The place is enclosed by an evocative Barluzzi church, which is known as the Church of All Nations. It was built by donations from various countries, including the U.S. One of the interior domes is subtly emblazoned with the seal of the United States.

US sealThe Agony in the Garden may be the most important mystery of Christ’s life for us Americans–citizens of the land of the free.

Yesterday in Bethlehem we meditated on the Incarnation. The Son of God united our humanity to Himself, remaining a divine Person. As Fr. Golas put it, the Lord Jesus never agonized about His identity. He always knew His mission, His destiny. He always knew the gracious plan of the Father, a plan for our welfare but for His woe–at least for His woe in Gethsemane.

Christ, knowing all things, freely chose to embrace the will of the Father. In the Garden of Gethsemane, He taught the world what freedom really is.

Christ never agonized about His identity. But He did agonize. He agonized so intensely that He sweated drops of His Precious Blood.

masada
Masada on the Dead Sea
Christ’s perfect freedom did not entail His stopping being human. We human beings do not want to suffer and die.

God truly became man; therefore, He wanted to live and be happy. He did not come to the garden because of some sick death-wish.

“Father, let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.”

Freedom does not allow us to avoid all pain. Our generation of Americans has forgotten that freedom is something noble for which our forefathers suffered and died.

Freedom means doing the will of the Father. Freedom means harmonizing our wills with God’s will. Freedom means trusting God. The most free person is the one who trusts God the most. Trusting in Providence is the consummate act of freedom. The great anthems of our country have sung this truth.

The Father utterly vindicated Christ’s free act of trust. Christ loved life; He did not want to die. But He obeyed the will of the Father to the end. He offered His human life–then the Father gave it back to Him…

…We also visited Masada, where the last Zealots of the first Jewish rebellion held out against the Roman Tenth Legion. The Jews committed suicide rather than surrender.

We conducted a moral analysis of what happened. We concluded that committing suicide was not the right thing to do. Fight to the death, sure. Suicide? No…

…We also visited Qumran, and we floated in the Dea Sea for a few relaxing minutes.