(Luke 12: 49-53) Just when we thought we had Jesus all figured out, He speaks these rather alarming words: “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division…”(Lk 12:51). Why does this message seem so different from the one of peace, unity, and love that we hear elsewhere in the Bible? Because at times we must draw our line in the sand. We must decide where we stand – whether we are for or against the message of the Gospel. The world would like us to believe that much of life is grey (50 shades of it, to be exact). But it’s actually pretty black and white. There is truth, and there are lies. There is good and, yes, there is evil. There is life, and there is death.
What a timely message in the middle of summer and in the midst of Ordinary Time, when it would be so easy to get comfortable with our lives and complacent about our faith. What is this fire of which Jesus speaks? It is His all-consuming love that purifies and refines us, demonstrated by His Passion and Death. The Cross became the catalyst – the spark – to bring about the biggest change the world has known since creation. All of history now turns on this axis. When we truly embrace Christ and the truths of His Gospel, we can’t be complacent. The fire of His love burns within us, dispelling the darkness of ignorance and sin, and igniting our hearts with love for others.
This week’s Gospel is a warning against that false sense of unity that we sometimes cling to – when we avoid certain topics or issues because we don’t want to rock the boat and upset the peace. What good is it if we simply tell people what they want to hear? If it’s not the truth, it has no love. After all, there can be no hedging bets or taking chances when it comes to eternity. Should we continue to strive for peace and unity? Absolutely. But our first desire must be to unite our hearts and minds with that of Christ. Only then can we work for unity and peace in our families, our churches, and in our world. Will we accept mediocrity when we are called to perfection? Will we settle for “lukewarmness” when we can experience passion and conviction? Ultimately, will we stand for Christ or turn away?
– Kelley Holy