IF any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
This ‘hatred’ leads not to despair or prideful contempt, but to overpowering, unconditional, all-embracing love — not only for God, but for friends, family, and even ourselves.
Elder Sophrony Sakharov has helped me understand a little better.
THROUGH total repentance we break loose from the deadly embrace of selfish individualism and begin to contemplate the divine universality of Christ, Who “loved us unto the end” [cf. John 13:1].
When we hate ourselves for the evil that lives in us, then it is that the boundless horizons of the love commanded of us are revealed.
Apart from Christ we shall never embrace the whole world in the vivifying flame of the grace that cometh down from on High; nor perceive the ontological dimensions of the second commandment — “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” [cf. Matt. 22:37-40].
It was given to Blessed St. Silouan to pray for the whole world as for himself. May the Lord grant to each and all to behold the light of such prayer, through which the primordial image of man is restored.
Whoever has not come close to this state should hesitate to call himself a Christian, knowing and feeling shame for his unworthiness. “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself” (meaning all his old notions and concepts) “and take up his cross, and follow me … If any man come to me, and hate not … his own life, he cannot be my disciple … He is not worthy of me” [cf. Matt. 16:24; 1o:37-38; Luke 14:26-33].
Elder Sophrony, “We Shall See Him As He Is”, pp. 145-6.
O CHRIST God, make your light that knows no evening shine on my lowly soul, and guide me to fear of you; because your commands are light.
Do not place me before your judgement seat naked of good deeds, O Lover of mankind; but clothe me with robes of godly actions through repentance.
I have been wounded by the sword of the passions and have fallen into the pit of despair; do not reject me, but heal me, Master, with the medicine of turning back.
Monday Matins. Translation from Anastasis.