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Jesus: a cause of division

Gospel Reading: Mt 10:34—11:1

Jesus said to his Apostles: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. For I have come to set/ a man against his father,/ a daughter against her mother,/ and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;/ and one’s enemies will be those of his household.

“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; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

“Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever receives a righteous man because he is righteous will receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because he is a disciple—amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.”

When Jesus finished giving these commands to his Twelve disciples, he went away from that place to teach and to preach in their towns.


Here, Jesus assures the Apostles that even disruptions in families are to be expected as a result of the crisis that the proclamation of the Kingdom brings. The prophet Micah bemoaned the family strife of his day as a sign of the slackening of faith. “For the son belittles his father, the daughter rises up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and your enemies are members of your household” (Mi 7:6).

No, Jesus is not against the family in and of itself. Jesus will teach later that it is God who joins husband and wife (cf Mt 19:3-6), and he will cite with favor the commandment to “honor your father and your mother” (Mt 19:19).

But yes, Jesus does divide families in the sense that his coming causes a crisis of loyalty and forces a decision. It is simply a fact that the Gospel shakes up values, rearranges priorities, and reorients goals. The Gospel is not a remedy; it is a sword that pares away all that is not aligned to the Kingdom (cf Mt 10:34). Hence, the challenge is to follow Christ. To do so will make one’s life free, holy, and good despite all odds.

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