Does Jesus really want me to hate my family?

Does Jesus really want me to hate my family?

Inspired by the Gospel according to Luke 14:25-33.

I don’t always let our toddler watch television, but when I do, I let him watch Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. At this point, I’m pretty certain my husband and I learn more from the show than our son does. It’s those little repetitive musical soundbites that get stuck in your head, right?

Today’s soundbite: “We’ve gotta look a little closer to find out what we wanna know.”

Amen, Daniel Tiger… Amen.

In Luke 14, we find Jesus telling the crowd that they can’t be His disciples unless they hate their families. And then, we all said, “Um…. Do what now, Jesus?”

Whenever we come across awkward verses like this, we gotta make like Daniel Tiger and look a little closer to find out what we want to know. Personally, I looked to the footnotes in my Ignatius Catholic Study Bible. Here’s what it says about the word "hate" that’s used here:

14:26 hate: An idiomatic term meaning “to love less” (Gen 29:31-33; Mal 1:2-3). Not even the sacredness of family loyalty should outweigh our commitment to Christ, since we must be willing to abandon even close relationships to follow him.

True love has an order that starts with God, and flows from Him to everything and everyone else. Of course we are supposed to love our families and friends! Duh! But we are supposed to love them less than we love Jesus. In fact, we can’t even love them the way we're meant to unless we love Jesus more.

For example, you know that moment when it’s already been an incredibly long day, your nerves are shot, and you’re staring at a thawing chicken with resentment thinking that the last thing you want to do is make dinner for these people? (No? That’s just me? Okay.) For me, in that moment, loving Jesus more means asking myself the question, “But could I make this meal for Jesus if He were hungry?” And then, resentment fades into tenderness, as I get out the pots and pans and think to myself, “Yes, I can do that. After all, my family truly belongs to Him, not to me. So I can feed His family for Him, if that’s what My Savior needs me to do right now.”

Maybe you wash clothes as if it’s Jesus’ dresser you’ll be shoving them into (assuming you’re one of those moms whose laundry actually ends up in drawers, in which case, I admire you at this point.)

Maybe you change that dirty diaper as if it were Baby Jesus himself that soiled it. And all the while, you’re contemplating the question, “What would Mary do?”

You get the idea.

When we love Jesus more than our families, suddenly everything that needs to be done can be done with grace instead of bitterness, because we’re not doing it for imperfect people. We’re doing it for Christ Himself. And when we do have those wonderful moments where we look into the tiny faces of our children with such a powerful sense of affection—that famous love of a mother stuff—we can turn our thoughts to heaven and say, “But Jesus… I love You more.”

Sweet Jesus,

May everything I do today be turned into praise and prayer as I offer it all up to You. If there is anything or anyone in my life that I am making priority over you, included even myself, please reveal it to me so that I can genuinely say with all my heart that I love You more. In fact, may I love all things for Your sake alone, and in doing so, become Your true disciple.


Empty your cup.

Empty your cup.

The Metaphorical Oxen Can Wait.