Q: In Luke 14:26, Jesus says,
“If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother,
wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own
life, he cannot be my disciple.”
I am having difficulty with this passage, especially
the word hate. I have a hard time believing our savior
Another passage that bothers me is Mark 13:32. There
Jesus talks about the end times and says, “But of that day
or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor
the Son, but only the Father.”
Do the three persons of the Trinity really not have
access to the same information?
A: The passage from Luke will
be read on November 5, 2003, Wednesday of the 31st Week
of the Year. The expression hate can indeed sound
a bit strong but it does catch our attention, which is what
Jesus wanted to do.
He is saying that objections by ones parents or other
relatives should not be permitted to veto someones
decision to follow him. Commenting on this verse in the
New Jerome Biblical Commentary, Robert Karris, O.F.M.,
writes, The total commitment Jesus demands of his
disciples is stated starkly.
This verse in the Gospel of Luke is based on Jesus
saying in Aramaic, a language that sometimes used two words
with opposite meanings to emphasize a contrast. In this
case, hate means love less. In Matthew
10:37, Jesus makes the same point with softer language.
This warning by Jesus was obviously important at a time
when any decision to become a Christian could be interpreted
as rejecting ones family religion. Jesus is not recommending
that people pick fights with their family members. He is,
however, cautioning his followers to be truthful even if
that causes family conflicts on this issue.
There were many gentile Christians in Lukes audience.
Their families could easily have opposed any move from polytheism
(worship of many gods) to monotheism (worship of one God).
People who worship many gods are tempted not to take any
of them very seriously because these gods are very much
like human beingsbut with increased powers.
Jesus language about the Trinity can be difficult
to interpret. In Mark 13:32, Jesus is not saying that God
the Father is superior to God the Son or God the Holy Spirit.
Especially in the Gospel of John, Jesus can sometimes sound
as though he is contradicting himself (for example, The
Father and I are one10:30/The Father is
greater than I14:28).
Some commentators have said that here Jesus is talking
about his human knowledge regarding the time of the final
judgment. It is best to interpret biblical passages as the
faith community has prayerfully understood them over the
The Mark 13:32 verse will be read on November 16, 2003,
the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time. This verse recommends
that we be ready for Gods final judgment of the world
whenever that may happen.
Q: A recent
news story referred to the archbishop of Boston as a monk.
I am pretty sure that friar is the correct term.
But what is the difference?
A: Benedictines, Cistercians,
Trappists and Carthusians are monks. They live in monasteries
and have a vow of stability. Once they have entered a monastery
and professed their final vows, they exercise their apostolate
there and ordinarily do not leave its grounds except on
monastery business or if they are assigned to another monastery.
Dominicans, Franciscans, Carmelites and Augustinians are
friars. This form of religious life arose centuries after
monasticism began. Friars travel frequently for reasons
of their apostolate. Archbishop Sean OMalley of Boston
is a Capuchin Franciscan, a friar.
Every brother takes the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience
in a religious community. A priest in the same community
has professed those vows but has also received the Churchs
Sacrament of Holy Orders, authorizing him to celebrate Mass,
hear confessions and anoint the sick.
Q: My husband and I disagree on
whether a pope can resign. Does Church law address that
issue? Has there ever been a pope who resigned? Also, is
there any reason why the pope could be relieved of the papacy?
A: The pope can resign but
no one can force him to do so. The Code of Canon Law says,
Should it happen that the Roman Pontiff resigns from
his office, it is required for validity that the resignation
be freely made and properly manifested, but it is not necessary
that it be accepted by anyone (Canon 332, #2).
There have been several papal resignations. The most recent
was Pope Gregory XII in 1415, allowing for the election
of Pope Martin V and the end of the Great Western Schism
A papal resignation would have to be public enough for
the cardinals and the rest of the Church to know that a
new pope needs to be elected.
There are no provisions in Church law for someone to declare
a vacancy while a pope is still living.
Q: A Protestant friend of mine
cannot understand why Catholics pray to saints. He regards
them as only people like us, who sinned, etc. He says we
should pray directly to Jesus.
A: We cannot pray to God and
to saints in the same meaning of that term. For this reason,
the Church long ago adopted the terminology of worshiping
God but venerating saints.
Saints are not an alternative to God; they make sense only
in relation to God. In the alternative opening prayer for
Mass on the feast of All Saints, the Church prays: God
our Father, source of all holiness, the work of your hands
is manifest in your saints, the beauty of your truth is
reflected in their faith. May we who aspire to have part
in their joy be filled with the Spirit that blessed their
lives, so that having shared their faith on earth we may
also know their peace in your kingdom.
Saints show us the great variety of ways that people can
respond generously to Gods grace.
Q: Why does Jesus often
refer to himself as the Son of Man? Why doesnt
he use the title Son of God?
A: The title Son of
Man is used 12 times in the Gospel of John and 70
times in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. In the Hebrew
Scriptures, this term often means simply a human being.
The New American Bible originally translated verse
five of Psalm 8 in that sense. The 1991 revision for that
verse speaks of mere mortals.
Acts of the Apostles 7:56 quotes the Book of Daniel 7:13
and uses this title in another sense. When Jesus applies
this title to himself, he is not downplaying his divinity.
By using this phrase, Jesus is pointing to the glory he
will manifest at his final coming.
The author of the Book of Daniel did not use Son of
God and probably would have regarded that title as undermining
monotheism, Judaisms absolute bedrock.
Jesus followers are monotheists (believers in one
God) even though they speak of three persons (Father, Son
and Holy Spirit) in a single divine nature.
Because Jewish Christians were wary of any language that
could be interpreted as polytheism and because many gentile
Christians had previously worshiped father/son gods, the
Church slowly developed its way of speaking about Jesus,
the Second Person of the Trinity who became fully human.
The Christian community knew well what it believed
about Jesus long before it agreed to adopt nature
and person, terms from Greek philosophy, to describe
In his article about Jesus in the New Jerome Biblical
Commentary, John Meier reviews five major titles of
Jesus and by far devotes the most space to the Son of
In the Book of Daniel, the Son of Man is part of
the end times, the vindication of Gods ways. Jesus
shares some of those characteristics, reminding people that
accepting Gods ways now is the best preparation for
the Final Judgment.
Daniel 7:13-14 will be read this year on November 23, 2003,
the solemnity of Christ the King. That days Gospel
is Pilates questioning of Jesus about being a king.
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