Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus lays down the conditions for discipleship: “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
There is a line from the illuminator of the St. John’s Bible that states: “We have to love our way out of this.” There is nothing wimpy or namby-pamby or blind about this conviction. When we love extravagantly, we are not purposely blinding ourselves to moral realities—just the contrary. Love is not a sentiment, but “a harsh and dreadful thing,” as Dostoevsky said. This is just what Jesus shows on his terrible cross. And this is just what we, his followers, must imitate. Taking up the cross means not just being willing to suffer but being willing to suffer as he did, absorbing violence and hatred through our forgiveness and nonviolence.