Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, "You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet;" and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, "Love your neighbour as yourself." Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.
Now large crowds were traveling with him; and Jesus turned and said to them "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. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.' Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.
Our deepest hope is given us by God and offers us great prospects. We cannot ignore or reject it without losing out in the process. Hope is not given simply for our private contentment, for unless it is shared, it is lost. The ever-hopeful watchword of Paul is, "Rejoice in hope." The reading from Romans begins with the need to share our gifts, because we are "one body in Christ and individually members one of another." Each one, compared to a member of the human body, must serve the entire body exercise one's gifts in such a way that the hand is never thinking just of the hand but of the mouth to which it offers food, and the mouth is never so absorbed with chewing as to overlook whether the stomach can digest the food and nourish the other parts of the body, including both arm and mouth.
He lists seven gifts bestowed on believers: 1. prophecy, in accordance with faith, so that the bond of unity in Christ be strengthened; 2. ministry, to represent the church in serving others in their material or physical needs; 3. teaching, that the mystery of Jesus be ever more profoundly appreciated; 4. exhortation, like parents joyfully encouraging then-children in their talents; 5. almsgiving from one's private resources, generously and graciously; 6. administration which should recognize its subordinate place on the list of gifts and act "with love"; 7. works of mercy, to be cheerfully performed. Not only does the entire church depend on the right functioning of each member within the body, but each member will shrivel and weaken, unless properly exercised.
Clearly, Jesus' expression about hating one's father, mother, wife, children, brothers and sisters, cannot be taken literally. Earlier in the gospel, Jesus had called his people to love their enemies, to bless those who curse them, to pray for those who treat them badly. He embodies that teaching in his own life. He healed the ear of the enemy who had come out to arrest him; he prayed asking God's forgiveness for those who were crucified him.
Jesus is using deliberately exaggerated language to get across his core insight. He is really saying that those who want to follow him will have to love him even more than they love those for whom they would normally have the deepest natural affection. As God's representative, as God's Son, Jesus alone is to be loved in the way that God is to be loved, with all our heart, soul, strength and mind. Nothing less will do for God or for God's Son. Jesus seems to be saying that if we want to be his disciple, we can't be half-hearted about it. Our following of the Lord is not a casual affair; it needs to be carefully considered, just as someone who decides to build a tower or to go to war needs to think it through thoroughly beforehand.