Reflection on the Lectionary: Luke 14:25-33
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

Reflection on the Lectionary: Luke 14:25-33

In this passage, Jesus makes the remarkable declaration, “If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”
While there may be an element of hyperbole in Jesus’ words, which was typical of the rhetorical style of his day, there is truth in his words. In order to construct relationships based on love and respect, it is first necessary to deconstruct relationships based on obligation and social custom. Relationships dictated by social custom are rigid and must be enforced with threats of violence and/or ostracism if social customs conflict with the unique needs of individuals.
In contrast, loving and respectful relationships (such as described in the next chapter of Luke in the parable of the prodigal son) encourage people to grow and reach their full human potential. As Walter Wink wrote, “Many others have shared this goal of enlarging freedom for all. What I have come to see is that Jesus’ teaching was not just that we should be free, but that we should be human. Oppression, poverty, and suffering inhibit our freedom to move on to the real point of the gospel: to become fully human beings.” I think Wink is right, and I would add that a more careful reading of the Bible militates against the humanocentric reading that seems to blind so many biblical scholars. There are repeated calls in Bible for the liberation of animals from oppression and abuse, which means allowing all God’s creatures to live according to their natural desires (which differ among individuals as well as among species). Factory farming frustrates nearly every desire animals have.
The passage concludes, “So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” Jesus exhorts his disciples to renounce those things that give us self-esteem – our possessions and our positions of hierarchy over other individuals (human and nonhuman). Jesus teaches that we should renounce these things and, instead, find meaning, purpose, and self-esteem in our service to Jesus’ ministry. As I see it, full commitment to discipleship does not involve severing relationships. Instead, it involves grounding those relationships on mutual love and respect, without reference to socially sanctioned positions of power and authority.

Go on to: Reflection on the Lectionary: Luke 15:1-32 A Lesson in Forgiveness
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