Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Have you ever exaggerated in order to make a point or to bring attention to something of great significance? How about a “fish tale”? Did a ten inch mackerel become a twenty pound bass? We call that hyperbole and it was a common way for people to express themselves in first century Jewish culture. It was not a lie but certainly a startling way to emphasize something. What today we would call shock-value!
On occasion, our Blessed Lord does the same thing to get people’s attention but also to stress an important truth. Both last Sunday’s Gospel and today’s convey the “hard sayings” of Jesus. His language wakes people up and challenges them to make a choice. First to recognize and believe that He is God-in-the-flesh, and secondly to make a choice in following Him as a disciple. The choice has a cost, and that cost is putting the Lord before all other persons and/or possessions in this life.
Always Our Lord respects our free will in the choices we make but very often those choices limit rather than expand us. With short-sighted choices we look for immediate gratification and thus a fleeting happiness. There is temporary satisfaction and before we know it, we are looking for the next thing to fill the emptiness. How very self-deceptive and exhausting. But when we make our choice to follow Christ, by putting Him first above all, there comes a freedom and joy that cannot be met by anyone or anything in this world. Sure, there is a cost. We give up in order to get more than we could ever imagine. After all, He made us. He knows what is best for us and His plan and destiny for us exceeds the puny and sometimes destructive choices we make for ourselves. May all your choices begin with what God wants and you will never be in want.