20th Sunday http://usccb.org/bible/readings/081819.cfm
“Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?
No, I tell you, but rather division.” (Luke 12)
These words of Jesus might sound contrary to what we might imagine about the message he preached. Wasn’t he the one who taught love, mercy, forgiveness, second chances, unity and inclusion without distinction? Yes!
If those words ring a discordant note, he adds to them with, “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 mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”
Unthinkable! Didn’t Jesus say in Matthew 12:25 “Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste, and no town or house divided against itself will stand.”
So, what gives?
We live in a “both / and” world. So yes Jesus said all these things and no, they are not contradictory statement.
When someone takes a stand then there will be division because not everyone will agree on the position taken, there will be alternative points of view and even if one agree in principle there will be room for different avenues to accomplish what people agree on. People of good will do disagree on approach.
Jesus took a stand for sure within his society and there was division and opposition to point that it got him killed. Everything is calm and quiet if everyone goes along. Jesus did not go along because he saw that things were not right. Jesus took a stand for justice. Justice is a lightening rod and people are deeply divided over justice definitions, approaches, and applications.
You may have thought Jesus advocated peace but peace and justice are intimately connected. The well known protest chant “No justice-No peace” shows that relationship. Without justice, peace is never possible.
Many think peace is the absence of violence but things can look peaceful on the surface without violence but that does not indicate peace is present. The absence of disruption could be attributed to the fact that those unjustly treated and oppressed are afraid, depressed, uneducated, undernourished and malnutrition and without enough strength to fight.
Peace flows from justice. Peace is the abiding presence of justice and justice is when everyone has their due, and therein is the road to division. Often those of privilege at the expense of others see noting unjust about the situation, those without expect nothing different. When one does not see a problem for legitimate or willful reason nothing changes and when it does change, it comes at the hand of turbulence more often than not. You can’t fix what you do not see as broken.
In my youth an adult once told me, “If you and I agree on everything-then only one of us is thinking.” If we all think the same because we are not thinking then we get the great homogenization of society which precludes the abiding presence of justice.
St. Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish priest who died in Auschwitz, said, “The most deadly poison of our time is indifference.” His words ring true today as indifference towards others poisons any sense of justice
🔷Have you taken a firm stand on something? What happened? Did you stand create division?
🔷Do you see injustice in your life? What have you/can you do about it?
🔷Can you see where following Jesus can bring division among your friend, family, community?
🔷Can you see the effects of the “poison of indifference” in society? Can you see where failing to recognize the God-given human dignity of your sisters and brothers is poisoning relationships?