This Sunday's Gospel (Luke 14:25-33) contains some hard words from Jesus regarding the cost of following him.
“Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” And “none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.”
Hard words indeed. They are a reminder that faith in/loyalty to Jesus calls into question every other loyalty.
Loyalty to Jesus demands examining all the ways our hearts are entangled with other loyalties that compromise our ability to fully commit to him and his self-sacrificial love of God and neighbor – and enemy.
I have known people who were literally rejected by their family because of their loyalty to Jesus. But, it is also possible to allow love of family to compromise our love of neighbor. Or to choose loyalty to familial norms over loyalty to the norms of Jesus.
By extension, this means all other loyalties are suspect and to be "hated". Loyalty to nation. Loyalty to ethnicity. Loyalty to ideology. Loyalty to political affiliation. Etc. Each can be substituted for true faith in Christ. And each can interfere with our ability to love of the other.
Loyalty to Jesus means relentless and fearless detachment from other loyalties. Not that we are disconnected from others, but we must examine to what extent those connections begin to take priority over our attachment to Jesus and his way.
And all attachments, not least to money and possessions, must be relentlessly and fearlessly examined. One cannot be loyal to Jesus and Mammon. And those loyalties are harder to disentangle than we want to believe. Out attachment to our possessions create spiritual static. The more we have the more likely the static will interfere with our attachment to God and neighbor. The best thing to do is to give away as much as possible.
In 'Grace and Free Will' Augustine argues that this extends to our attachment to/love of our own lives when discussing whether or not it is a faithful option to kill in self-defense. He suggests, with Jesus, that it is not.
This is not easy stuff. But, the point is that Jesus knows that it is only through putting our whole trust in him and following in his way without distraction that we will find the fullness and depth of love, peace, and joy for which we yearn.