Aug. 14, 2016 - 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church
For a long time, this gospel passage was very confusing to me. I mean, I just couldn’t figure it out.
What is Jesus talking about when he says, “I have not come to establish peace. I have come to bring division.”
Isn’t he the Prince of Peace? How can be bring division?
Well, my life experience shows me time and again that Jesus does in fact bring about division.
Over the years, I’ve noticed that parents are often deeply grieved by the choices their adult children make. And the decision that grieves them the most is when their children stop coming to church.
It is extremely painful when those we love turn away from the faith that we hold so dear, when our loved ones turn away from the church where we find such comfort.
I think this is the division that Jesus is speaking of. Jesus understands that following him is a difficult choice, so he is asking for a decision from each of us. He is asking us to make a choice.
We have to choose to follow or not. Some follow. Some do not. This creates division.
Now, this is nothing new. It’s not just happening to us. The Prophet Jeremiah, in the Old Testament reading, faced the same situation.
Jeremiah chose to obey the Lord God and spoke the Lord’s words to the people. But the people were wicked and didn’t want to hear what Jeremiah was saying.
So they plotted to kill him. They threw him in a deep well and left him there to die. But some righteous people wouldn’t let this happen to Jeremiah, so they pulled him out of the well.
Jesus found this division in his own life. Some people chose to follow him, but others did not. And those who did not follow him became his enemies. Eventually, his enemies had him crucified.
The conflict that marked Jesus’ life, marks our lives too. We each must make a decision to follow. And sometimes our decisions bring about division.
The writer of the letter to the Hebrews admonishes us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. He endured opposition from sinners so that we might not grow weary and lose heart.
If Jesus faced division, then we can expect it too. But Jesus forgave those who opposed him.
We cannot hate our adult children or any of our loved ones when they make decisions we do not agree with. That’s too easy and doesn’t really allow the possibility of reconciliation.
Indeed, we must pray for them. We must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. And we must always remember to strive to act as Jesus did, with mercy and charity, with love and forgiveness.