Both the Old and the New Testament call us to love our parents. The fourth Commandment of the Decalogue requires children to honour their parents (Ex 20,12). St. Paul told us that children must respect, obey and love their parents, because their authority comes from God ( Col 3,20). Parents take care of us when we are young; as they advance in age, they are no longer able to help themselves as they once could; children must try their best to give their parents some sort of support needed (1 Tim 5:4,8). The teaching to love and to take care of parents is not in contradiction to what Jesus requires: devotion from His followers, when he said,
'If any man comes to me without hating his father, mother, wife, children,.... and his own life, he cannot be my disciples'. v 26.
God is love and in God, there is no hatred. The words 'hate' apply not to God, but only to us. We need words that express our feelings. The phrase like, 'I love this cheese but hate its smell' simply is an expression. It attaches to no application.
The teaching love God above one's parents is open to various interpretations. Some say, Jesus calls for undivided loyalty to Himself above family loyalties; others say, Jesus tells us to choose what is most important to us; others again say, Jesus calls us to be wise in weighing between the call of Jesus and family care. I think the heart of Jesus' teaching is not about choosing, but rather about the warning of the misunderstanding between the two kinds of love: love of God and love of creatures. Which one is superior to the other? Some people love God less than they love their relatives because they make no distinction between mortals and the divine. God's love is perfect; while all human love is imperfect. Placing the mortal's love equal to the Divine's love is an act of disgrace. Believing the filial love which is superior to the Divine one is idolatry. The reality is that without God we don't even exist, not saying that we have a family or life. God's love is perfect and every good thing is born out of God's love for the world. The imperfect thing can't be superior to the Perfect.
Not all things in this world are equal in value; some have more value, while others have less. To make this point clearer, Jesus gave two examples to warn his followers that they must be wise and prudent in their decision- making. To avoid ridicule by the public, a wise builder would carefully work out the cost of a project before commencing the work. The second example was a king who worked out different strategies whether it was better to go to war or to negotiate for peace. Both examples require careful consideration for decision-making. The decision to commit to follow Jesus is a serious one. It is a lifetime commitment now and thereafter. Because of its utmost importance, one must take it seriously, and carefully examine all aspects of one's life to respond to the call. It is a matter of choosing the meaning of life now, and afterwards the everlasting life. This decision is the most important of human life, because every other decision must flow out from it.
Following Jesus means to let go of the present life for the new life in Christ to grow. Letting go of what we love is not easy. We struggle hard and endure much pain to let go of what gives comfort to life. Following Jesus is a demanding way of life, and but what God commands is doable because God would never ask us to do something which is beyond our ability. All we have to do is place ourselves before God, to be an instrument in God's hands. With attachment to the world, we follow the way of the world. The way of the world is man-made. With attachment to God, we follow the way of God. And only in God we do enjoy true freedom.