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Jesus: A cause of division

Gospel Reading: Lk 12:49-53

Jesus said to his disciples: “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?

No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a motherin-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”


We often hear complaints of disappointment: “When I started to serve the Lord, I thought things would go well since God would bless me. How come I am beset with problems now that I am given to service?” “I’m trying to be good now and troubles come my way.” These experiences are rife so they cannot be taken as isolated cases. Perhaps the Gospel can change this outlook. Jesus tells his disciples, who also may have shared this misunderstanding: “Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division” (v 51). And he describes division within the family, the most intimate unit in society. Why is this so? Because the message of Jesus is most uncompromising and most universal. It is like a devouring fire, eating up and transforming everything along its path. It is uncompromising. Either you are with him or against him. Jesus accepts no fence-sitters or mere onlookers. He will tell the Christians of Laodicea: “I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth”(Rv 3:15-16). Many people, unfortunately, are uncommitted. They stay neutral and keep a safe distance. They are content with the minimum – in praying, attending Mass on Sundays, and confessing once a year. They avoid harming others but do not go out of their way to help people in need. And they think they are good Christians. Jesus does not accept mediocrity. He gives his all and he demands our all, our best! Jesus’ message is most universal, open to all. The people of Jeremiah’s time were banking on the fact that God’s temple was in Jerusalem and so the city would not fall to the Babylonians. Were they not the chosen people of God? Jeremiah preached that unless they repented and left their sinful ways, the enemy would overrun them. For this message the people took offense and threw Jeremiah into a muddy well to dispatch him. He was considered a troublemaker for standing on the universal call to repentance. Also in our times mediocre people could not stand someone who decides to serve the Lord more fully. They pull him down and find fault with his good intentions. Let us not be surprised when problems come our way once we decide to commit ourselves more fully to the Lord. This is part of our dying that brings about new life.

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SOURCE: “366 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: publishing@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.