A common lesson we learn in our faith journey is the necessity of detaching ourselves from earthly goods in order to reach Heaven.
If you haven’t heard from recent homilies, history, or proven science, we can’t take anything with us after we die. Thus, a big emphasis is placed on how we organize what we value here on earth. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it,
“The precept of detachment from riches is obligatory for entrance into the Kingdom of heaven” (CCC, no. 2544).
We also know that detachment is not a one-time fix. Every day can be a battle to detach from different things—some harder to break away from than others. We often find ourselves detaching from one thing, only to cling to another thing with equal intensity. It is indeed a life-long process.
But what took me a while to understand was that detachment means not only forgoing things that are bad, but also things that are good. It also includes detaching from people!
Recognizing the Structure
This past Sunday Gospel reading provides a framework to understand the importance of this radical detachment:
“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” (Luke 14:26).
At first glance, it doesn’t make sense. We are called to love our neighbors. How can we be asked to “hate” in order to be a disciple of the Prince of Peace?
The ferocity of the wording is meant to distinguish the value of serving God over everything else.
Seeking God and his Kingdom, responding to his invitation, is such a high and wonderful goal that anything and everything else will fail in comparison, just like all the beauty and joy on earth will seem insignificant compared to the joy found in heaven.
This is why detachment is key. It does not reduce the value of things or people, but helps to re-orient them to a greater appreciation of what truly matters in life: knowing, loving, and serving our Lord.
Allowing Others to Grow
Detachment from others also means we give them the space to grow in their own journeys. We share our faith and live our faith by example, but we also know everyone is on their journeys and we can only accompany, not control.
Thus, detachment means loving our family, our friends, and then leaving the rest to God.
Daniel Quintero is a newlywed husband, writer, and avid karaoke singer. He currently attends Prince of Peace Catholic Church where he volunteers in the lector ministry and with faith formation. His favorite motto: “Awkwardness does not exist.”