Understanding Luke 14:26?

Q. I have always been made uncomfortable by the passage in Luke 14:26. Can you help me understand it?

Sophia, Memphis, Tenn.

A. Here’s a reply from TCA columnist Father Ray Ryland, Ph.D., J.D:

The troublesome verse is, “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.”

For the Greek verb miseo, the word “hate” is a misleading translation. As used here, the verb means, “to regard with less affection,” “to love less,” “to esteem less.” Here, Our Lord is simply telling us that He must come first in our love and commitment. We truly love and serve Him only if He is the most important person in our life. On another occasion, Jesus spoke the same truth, but more plainly: “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Mt 10:37).