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By Fr Samuel Medley, SOLT

11/6/2013 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (

The fear of the Lord, where only God can occupy that inmost sanctuary, will overflow into other human relationships and sectors

Hatred, or odium in Latin, according to St Thomas Aquainas, is the emotion that God created for the human heart to protect our love.  Hatred of anything that possesses that inmost sanctuary, that can only belong to God, protects us from being deceived and living with that painful unmet expectation, of trying to have a creature satisfying the longing which only God can fulfill.


By Fr Samuel Medley, SOLT

Catholic Online (

11/6/2013 (3 years ago)

Published in Year of Faith

Keywords: Sanctuary, Liturgy, Discipleship, Year of Faith, Homily, Love

HYTHE, KENT, UK (Catholic Online) - Five HUGE linebacker-like lads lined the table at the university student union.  They all stared at me, as my new "friend" read from the bible:

"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."

"See all these guys?" as he pointed to the boys in front of me looking like wolves ready to pounce on a piece of meat.  "Yeah?" I said.  "Some of them haven't talked to their mom's and dad's in years.  It is the cost of discipleship.  If you really want to follow Jesus, you have to hate your parents too."  Suddenly I knew that the Christian sect that my "friend" was following was absolutely bonkers.  Trying remove me from my parents so I would be vulnerable for brainwashing.

"I think I have to go now.  Thank you very much.  Have a nice day.  Goodbye."  I never saw that "friend" again, astonished that he would try to convert me by muscling or intimidating me into hating the ones I loved the most.

It can be easy to misunderstand this passage of the Gospel from Mass for this Wednesday of the 31st week of the year.  So I have to hate my husband?  Well, he does leave the toilet seat up a bit too much.

CONTEXT - it is the Catholic principle of interpreting Sacred Scripture.  What is the context for this passage?  Read further.  "Everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple."  No one can possess your inmost heart.  If any possession, either temporal/monetary or spiritual/relationship lays hold of your inmost sanctum, it is an impostor.

This is the good news.  This Gospel will especially help many women, especially wounded with feminine concupiscence, or feminine brokeness to need their husbands or boyfriends to be their all, their everything, i.e. their God.  The Lord God foretold this when He said, "Your desire shall be for your husband and he shall rule over you".  You see it sadly way too much in women who falsely assume that their husband is going to fill and fulfill and satisfy every crack and crevice and longing of their aching heart."

How many hurting teen age girls think a man is going to come along and solve all their problems.  There is only one Man who can do that: JESUS CHRIST.  The only fulfillment of the human hearts deepest pained longings is the Eucharistic Savior.  No one else can fill that hole.

Sorry, not even mom or dad can do that.  This is a Gospel of freedom, good news of redemption for every child who thought their earthly father could be the perfect fulfillment of their hearts need for the Fatherhood that only Abba, Father - God only can provide.  Only God is the completion of each person.

Hatred, or odium in Latin, according to St Thomas Aquainas, is the emotion that God created for the human heart to protect our love.  Hatred of anything that possesses that inmost sanctuary, that can only belong to God, protects us from being deceived and living with that painful unmet expectation, of trying to have a creature satisfying the longing which only God can fulfill.

So when 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," He is speaking of the importance of protecting the sanctuary of the heart for God alone.

This is why He immediately goes on speaking of the cost of discipleship.  What army do you have to contend with?  What do you have to build?  What possessions must you renounce? 


This is the supreme cost of divine Love.  Like the man who discovered the pearl of great price and had to sell everything to buy the field, or the rich young man who couldn't forsake his wealth and went away sad, the only possible way to gain full possession of God and the heavenly joys that come with it, is to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and strength," and therefore to renounce anything that comes in the way of doing this.

This is the beginning, not the fated end, as the sectarian "friend" I had in college would like to believe, of truly loving one's parents, family, and most especially of really loving your spouse.  You love them because God has filled your inmost hearts need for the Love that never will fade or disappoint.  When you don't think your wife is going to complete you but only complement you helping you to find completion in God, then you really can fall in love with her all over again.  You see her as God's beautiful helpmate and gift to you - not as a kind of idol or trophy or thing that can make you feel good about yourself.

This is also the beginning, as the first reading points out, of living the commandments.  First there is love of God, then love of neighbor.  "Love is the fulfillment of the law," only if you understand that it is not human love that can complete and totally consume you.  Being consumed by divine love, allowing your heart to overflow with divine love, is the only true way to love your neighbor as yourself.

In our times, the boundary of the sanctuary of one's love for God can be very blurred. We live in an idolatrous and adulterous generation.  This can be seen in Catholic Churches where the altar rail has been removed and just any joe blow has been encouraged to trample the sanctuary, forgetting that there are parts of our Churches that must remain sacred and untouched.

The excess of communication in social media sometimes blurs this line too, when people share things that should be kept private and keep things that should be made known.  In marriages it happens when spouses do not "hate" anything that gets in between them or crowds the sanctuary of the heart that is meant only for the beloved.  For priests and religious, the vow of celibacy for the sake of the kingdom is compromised by not protecting the senses and emotions like a sanctuary that should be kept for the adoration of God as their only fulfillment and completion.

How to rediscover and educate ignorant hearts of proper boundaries?

Live the Gospel for today.

The fear of the Lord, where only God can occupy that inmost sanctuary, will overflow into other human relationships and sectors.

May Our Lady, whose Immaculate and Virginal Heart was kept pristine and singular for God alone, pray for us, that we may rediscover this consecrated part of the heart that is reserved only for divine love, so that we may appropriately love our neighbor, our parents, our spouses, and all.

Father Samuel Medley, SOLT, is a priest of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, and is based in Hythe, Kent, United Kingdom.  He speaks to groups around the world on Blessed Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body.  Visit his homily blog or his blog on the Church's teachings on marriage and family life


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