In today’s Gospel reading we hear Jesus say, “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.” Is Jesus calling us to go to war with one another?
Jesus is calling each of us to stand for what is right, what our faith leads us to believe, in the Truth that is Jesus Christ. Christ is the Prince of Peace, but in today’s Gospel, He wishes to bring blazing fire and division on the earth. What is really going on here? The Lord of Love and Peace wants “a father divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother.”?
Jesus is telling us that even within families, not everyone is willing to follow the teachings of truth that our Lord teaches us. Each of us must make a choice to follow the truth that Jesus teaches, or not to follow His truth. To stand for the truth, to live in the truth, will cause division from those who want the truth to adjust to fit what they want to believe. It will cause us suffering and ridicule from those who will not live in the truth but want the truth to be relative to how they want to live.
Standing for the truth will cost Jesus suffering, ridicule and His life, by death on a cross as He said, “There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!” If the company we keep tempts us to sin, then it is time to part ways. We like our friends, but that does not mean that we can accept whatever they say or do. When Jesus tells us that He has come to bring division and not peace He’s telling us that peace is not to be found without cost. There is always a cost to genuine peace. Anything else is simply the absence of conflict.
Our challenge from today’s Gospel is to choose to remove whoever or whatever in our lives that cause us to habitually sin and lead us from the preparations that we must make for eternal life. Should we invite those around us to come along with us on our journey of conversion? Absolutely, but if they will not journey with us to holiness; then we must decide to either stay with them and face temptations to sin with them, or to move forward without them. Some will follow us to Jesus, unfortunately some will not.
– Bishop Roy Campbell