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Not peace but division?

The gospel message of this 20th Sunday is puzzling. In one part of the Scriptures, Jesus Christ promises peace: “I leave you peace, my peace I give to you.”

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But in Luke 12,51 of this Sunday gospel, he says, “I have come to bring not peace but division.” Is that not a contradiction?
No, there is no contradiction here. The core of Jesus’ teachings has always been love, unity, and peace.

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What the Lord stresses is that God’s peace should not be the kind that accepts compromises with evil or tolerates injustices and wrongdoings. And a Christian must exemplify this “peace” even at the cost of antagonizing and parting ways with relatives or friends.

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“A family will be divided: fathers against their sons, mothers against daughters…” (Lk 12,52).

This message is vividly illustrated in the story of Thomas More (1477-1535) whose life was immortalized in Robert Bolt’s multi-awarded movie, “A Man for All Seasons.”

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A devout layman and brilliant lawyer, Thomas was appointed High Chancellor of England by King Henry VIII. At a crucial point, Thomas was made to choose between friendship and loyalty to the king or his faith and conscience.

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He chose the latter when he opposed King Henry’s illegitimate union with Anne Boleyn and refused to recognize him as supreme head of the Church in England.

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In 1535, after resisting even the entreaties of his own family, which he considered contrary to the will of God, he was decapitated at the Tower of London with these parting words: “I die the king’s good servant, but God’s first.”

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There will be situations, perhaps not as dramatic as that of Thomas More, when we, too, have to witness to our Christian principles and convictions, when we have to stand up against evil in society even if we have to go against a superior, an employer, or a relative.

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A gutsy lady accountant of a big company I know, for instance, courageously reported to the department head about anomalies of some high-ranking officials who, after due investigation, was found guilty and eventually dismissed from service.

We commend certain concerned groups like the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) for their fight against anomalies and violence in society.

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It’s not easy to expose and oppose wrongdoings because the wrongdoer can silence the whistle-blower by threats of violence and if that doesn’t work, through bribes.

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We pray that the Lord grant us COURAGE to emulate the prophet Jeremiah who, in this Sunday’s first reading, stood up against King Zedekiah or St. Thomas More, who in exemplifying Christian values and moral conviction.

In the words of the British statesman Edmund Burke: “The only way by which evil men prosper in society is for the good to do nothing.”

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LAFF ONE ANOTHER. As you start the day, don’t forget to PRAY that you may live…TAKE A BATH so others may live!

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In an international convention in the USA, a man introduced himself to a Filipino, saying, “I’m Joe Smith from the state of Texas.” The Filipino replied: “I’m Fred Ubaldo from the State of Calamity.”

Note: Yes, we’re in the season of calamities like typhoons, monsoon rains, floods, be prepared always. Better to be sure than be sorry.

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