Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 18, 2013
Jesus said to his disciples: “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.
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."
What we hear today in our Gospel seems to be in contrary of what we know about Jesus. In the book of the prophet Isaiah, he was foretold to be a prince of peace. In the last supper, Jesus also told his disciple, “my peace I leave you, my peace I give you.” But in today Gospels, Jesus told his listeners the he come to bring division. How then can we possibly understand these particular passages in our scripture?
Jesus himself is not in favor of division. What Jesus wants is unity within the community. Now, the announcement of the truth that Jesus is the Messiah gradually becomes a source of division among the Jews. Within the family or the Community, some were in favor and others are in contrary. What was happening in the family and community that time is much discussion, much division as a consequence of the Good News for the Jews that time. At let us be reminded that this is also the division which brought about the passion and death of Jesus in the Cross.
What Jesus actually means by division in our gospel today is a division that results from FIDELITY. Our Gospels today invites us to reflect about division that occurs because of our fidelity to God. We are reminded that even our family loyalties, friendship included will be challenged on the basis of whether we accept Christ or Not. The essence of Christianity is loyalty to Jesus Christ, and that loyalty takes precedence above every other relationship.
Let me take our attention to one of our Filipino values. We Filipinos are known for strong-family-ties. We take pride of the level of our closeness that is rarely observed by other cultures. But most of the time, this close family ties are subject to many abuses in our own culture. Parent would tolerate members of the family from their own wrong doing. Political dynasty is still a problem in our country today, passing political power within the family members. We sometimes compromise our belief and morality over our relationship with other family member.
My dear brethren we are invited follow the way of truth and love, of freedom and justice even at times it provoke hostility of those who feel threatened by goodness. The love of God asked us to choose who will be the priority in our lives. In our gospel today, Jesus invites his disciples to examine who they love first and foremost. Jesus insists that his disciples give him the loyalty which is only due to God, a loyalty that is higher than family or relatives. It may at times that family and friends can become our enemies, if the thought of them keeps us from doing what we know God wants us to do. MANGYARI NAWA…