It is quite obvious from the over-all context of St Luke’s Gospel, that Jesus could not mean us literally to hate our parents, brothers, and sisters. What Jesus is really saying is that we are bound to love our close family members – but not only them. Family members are obviously included, but so are others. If we try to walk on the way with Jesus, without being aware of what is involved, we will miss the joy and happiness of a totally fulfilled life that Jesus is holding out to us.
As true followers of Jesus, we enter a new family, where we recognise every person as a brother or sister. There are times when the needs of others precede family concerns. At the same time, “Charity begins at home”- but charity does not end at home, it is constantly reaching out to others. If we try to walk on the Way with Jesus, without being aware of what is involved, we will miss the joy and happiness of a totally fulfilled life that Jesus, despite the apparently negative language of today’s Gospel, is holding out to us.