Jesus: Cause of Division
OTHER HOMILY SOURCES from SVD Bible Diary
2002 The gospel message of today sounds like a contradiction. In one part of the Scriptures, Christ promises peace: “I leave you peace, my peace I give to you.” Nut in Matthew 10:34, he says: “My mission is to spread, not peace, but division.”
When we encounter such seeming contradictions,, Jesus’ own examples and the context of his teachings should be considered. For the core of his teachings has always been love, unity, peace.
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 hurting relatives and friends (v. 35).
This message is illustrated in the story of Thomas More (1477-1535). He was 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. 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 of England.
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.”
There will be situations in life, perhaps not as dramatic as that of Thomas More, when we, too, have to refuse compromises with evils and wrongdoings. (Fr. Bel San Luis, SVD Bible Diary 2002)
2004 “My mission is to spread, not peace, but division.” The gospel reading has nothing to do with violence. Jesus is not man of violence but a man of peace. It only shows that truth will be divisive in a world full of different people with different attitudes toward God and the truth. Prince of Peace though Jesus is, the world will so violently reject him and his reign that even closest relatives and friends will be polarized over him. The disciples would be sent out to the same hostile world. Like their Master the disciples would also experience rejection of their person and their message, even to the point of betrayal. It is Jesus’ followers who will be “chased with a sword,” as they are hated by all people because of his name (Lk 21:17). Jesus himself experienced these feelings because of the treachery of Judas Iscariot and the denial of Simon Peter. (Fr. Louie Punzalan, SVD Bible Diary 2004)
2006 Mother Teresa “is a person who has profoundly disturbed my peace of mind for a long time,” author Robert Fulghum has written. “She doesn’t even know me, but she continually goes around minding my business.”
“….Alongside my mirror is a photograph of this troublesome woman. Each time I look in the mirror at myself, I also look at her face…servant of the poor and the sick and the dying. Yet no Shah or President or Prime Minister holds the key to as much power as she possesses. Hers is the invincible weapons against the evils of this earth; the caring heart; and hers are the everlasting riches of life: the compassionate spirit. And while I wrestle at the impotence of the individual, she goes right on changing the world. While I wish for more power and resources, she uses her power and resources to do what she can at the moment. She upsets me, disturbs me and shames me.
“If ever there is truly peace on earth, goodwill to men, it will be because of persons like her. Peace is not something you wish for; it’s something you make, something you do, something you are and something you give away!”
Jesus said: “I have come to bring not peace but the sword.” Like a sword, the person of Christ cuts through the status quo, upsets and disturbs it but with the purpose of establishing real peace. On our part the sword means shedding off whatever is not Christ-like, whatever is obstructionist in the pursuit of real peace both in ourselves and society. (Fr. GdP, SVD Bible Diary 2006)
2007 We make a grave mistake if we assume that we will never face persecution simply because we live in a free country. Conflicts, family divisions or some kind of persecution are inevitable, Jesus Himself says so!
The Word reminds us that it is vitally important to spiritually arm ourselves with “inner emergency equipment” before crisis hits.
Most of us have emergency equipments in our homes and offices: a first-aid kit, a flashlight, perhaps a fire extinguisher or at least a cellphone to use in an S.O.S. situation. We like the Boy Scouts motto: “Be prepared.” We never know when and how emergencies will come. Woe to those caught unprepared…..
Here’s a sample of a “survival kit” for daily living:
- Toothpick – to pick out the good qualities in others.
- Rubber band – to be flexible. Things may not always go the way you want.
- Band aid – to heal ill feelings and resentments.
- Pencil – to list your blessings everyday.
- Eraser – to remind you that everyone makes mistakes.
- Chewing gum – to help you stick to things you really want to accomplish.
- Tea bag – to help you relax and reflect on all the positive things in your life.
It’s in reaching out to others that we heal ourselves. In giving happiness, we receive our peace and rising above our sorrows that we find joy! (Fr. Romy M. Castro, SVD Bible Diary 2007)
2009 If Jesus is the prince of peace, then why is it that He contradicts Himself in today’s gospel when He says, “Do not think I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword…” For literalists this statement poses a great contradiction for it defies human logic, but for believers it is an invitation for self-introspection. This presumption comes from the fact that every reality can be viewed from different perspectives.
We should not be limited with common perception, literal interpretation and subjective analysis because truth itself is evolving. Hence there is a wide variety of contexts that affect certain events to happen. Take for instance, the context when Jesus delivered His teachings in the gospel today. Most people during the time of Christ had a strong familial bond and half deep-seated patriarchal orientation. That is to say, blood is thicker than water, which remains to be validly true up to the present Christ had witnessed different parental abuses, injustices and even suppression of truth within families that is why He bluntly suggests a stand against these abuses and injustices even to the point of division in the family. The sword that He brings is a symbolic representation of being firm against unjust traditions in the family.
Yes Christ is the prince of peace because the sword that He brings is a symbol of courage that will make us steadfast against challenges of life. May Christ continue to live in our hearts. (Fr. Roger Solis, SVD Bible Diary 2009)
2013 We call Him Prince of Peace yet he is telling us, “Do not think that I have come to establish peace on earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Did he did not come in peace to reconcile broken and sinful humankind to an all merciful and ever loving Father?
Jesus might have in mind the prophecy of Micah: “A man’s enemies are the men of his own household,” (7:6). The love of God requires us to choose who will be the number one priority in our life. Thus, to place any relationship or anything else above God is a form of idolatry. He challenges his disciples to reexamine themselves as to who they love first and foremost. He insists that His disciples give him the loyalty due to God; a kind that is even higher than spouse or kin.
However, true love of God should compel us to express love towards our brothers and sisters. Any kindness and help shown in our brethren will not lose its reward. As true and faithful followers of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are called to be kind and generous like him.
“Lord, no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no heart has conceived the things you have prepared for those who love you. set us ablaze with the fire of the Holy Spirit that we may love you in and above all things and so receive the rewards you have promised us through Christ our Lord,” – Christian Prayer Book. (Fr. Mike M. Mahinay SVD Bible Diary 2013)
2016 July 11, 2016 Monday
In today’s gospel, Jesus speaks “of not bringing peace” upon the earth in view of his radical call to discipleship. He calls us to follow him, serve him and imitate his way of life. Responding to this call entails in us a total change in our way of thinking, living, and behaving. It can cause a great deal of pain and suffering to us and to our families like what happened to St. Francis of Assisi when he renounced all his wealth and family inheritance to follow JESUS’ call to a life of poverty.
This is the gospel call today – to make a sincere decision to follow JESUS in all his ways, and to give ourselves completely to Him without turning back no matter what consequence it might entail to us and to others.
Everyday, there is always something to which we are called and dared to respond: a hungry and poor man; our deteriorating prayer life; our lack of faithfulness to the sacraments; someone we have been refusing forgiveness; that nagging urge to commit, as religious and priests, to serving him in his mission to the world.
More often, to respond to most of these needs demand only a little pain, a little cross to carry, and a little discomfort in our lives. Fortunately, the more we respond, the more we nd peace, joy, fulfillment and happiness in our hearts rather than turbulence and sadness. Today, let us prioritize our Lord and his calls in our life. We simply cannot imagine the joy and the peace that come with doing it. Let us do it now. (Fr. Gerry Donato, SVD | DWS, Tagaytay Bible Diary 2016)
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