Hate seems like a strong word. Is God truly demanding that we hate those who are supposedly the closest to us? Is He postulating that self-hatred is necessary for salvation? You bet.
I took a glance at the Greek word which is translated as hate; it is “miseo.” The same root used in misogyny and misanthrope. The English dictionary defines it as intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger or sense of injury. Let us not forget the fundamental end of earthly life — union with God, whatever the cost. Christ certainly lived this principle, even to death, death on the Cross. It happens to be an unfortunate side effect of original sin that those nearest to us can cause us to fear, make us angry and even injure us.
Christ’s admonishment to hate even our parents, brothers, wives, children and even our own lives is necessary. The simple fact of the matter is that we let each other down. When someone tempts you away from union with God, they work against Him. So what is to be done? Aversion — turning away. Christ is not asking us to spit and spite, but rather to turn away from all those who do not contribute to better relations with the Father, regardless of our relationship with the person.
As hard as this may seem, Christ once again gives us the perfect example. Christ refers to Peter as Satan. He turns him away. He literally overturns the tables in the temple. He orders the devil back to the chthonic regions from which he came. This is the hate He is talking about in today’s Gospel. Remember, however, whatever the scenario, we must do things charitably, as Christ did.
To construct this necessary bit of spiritual constitution, brace yourself in prayer. Build a relationship with God that can withstand the occasional (and unfortunately sometimes frequent) barrage of temptation that comes from those who should know better. Forge a perspicacity that recognizes God at all times and in all places. But do not expect to accomplish this without a steady, daily prayer life. I’m not talking about cranking out a couple of Hail Marys as you are driving to work. Rather, work on meditation and contemplation. Allocate time to talk to God. Buy a book. Go to church. Expend the effort.
The greatest self-love imaginable is to willingly refrain from prayer. Turn away (hate) any part of yourself that tries to put prayer second (or third, fourth…). When you give yourself to God in prayer you recognize your true need. The need to accomplish the one real goal in life: to be united with the Father, whatever the cost.
(This article courtesy of the Arlington Catholic Herald.)