Reading today’s Gospel may give the impression that what Jesus says contradicts His other pronouncements. In the Gospel of St. John, the Lord says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you” (Jn. 14: 27), yet this is the opposite of what He proclaims today.
In today’s Sunday Gospel (Lk. 12: 49-53), which is a continuation of last Sunday’s; the Lord said,
“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.”
The Lord is actually saying that not everyone will accept or practice what He preached. In fact, just after Jesus’ time, the Jewish religion was divided and separated. The Jews have always referred to themselves as the “chosen people” and have expected the Messiah to be a future leader or king from the line of King David.
So it was then, so it is now. There will be misunderstandings amidst false prophets continuing to have their own ways of interpreting the Gospel that they borrowed from the Church, causing further division. Religions and sects are sprouting here and there falsely claiming divine origin as a way to attract followers. Yet God’s message isn’t something one picks in the Scriptures to suit his particular agenda but is Divine Revelation chosen by Him at an appropriate time and place. It isn’t based on human understanding but an inspiration given by the Holy Spirit. The Gospel will be preached until the end, and so it’s up to those who refused to acknowledge “The Way” how the Lord wants it to be. The prophet Isaiah said,
“…for my thoughts are not your thoughts and your ways are not my ways, declares Yahweh.” (Is. 55: 8)
The Lord speaks to us in many ways and we just have to prepare ourselves to discern correctly. It is a gift of grace to understand the leading of the Holy Spirit and it depends on our openness and humility to listen and as well as the readiness of our souls to receive Him. In His unlimited love for us, Yahweh has always wanted to be intimate and bring us closer to Him. In his latest book “Intimacy Brews”, prolific writer and spiritual adviser Fr. Armand Robleza shares that,
“We did not ask for Jesus; the Father gave Him to us. Intimacy is and will always be His initiative. Discipleship then is welcoming and surrendering to His love.”
Knowing that, then it goes without saying that we must respond to this intimacy request just like we respond to some long-lost friend asking for a friend request in Facebook. It will not be smooth though, for God will comfort the lonely, the broken-hearted, the poor and the oppressed, but He will also disrupt those in their comfort zones in order for them to listen and change their attitude of passive indifference.
Last night while I was eating my routine dinner, a young girl in High School approached me saying that she is selling a set of colored pens in her spare time in order to support her studies. While I haven’t verified if she’s really a student or not (she actually looks like one), I parted some of the money I have at that time to help her. I thought she was delighted and I prayed she will be blessed with her struggles to go to school. We cannot be single-minded about helping others knowing that God will use these moments to bless others just as He blesses us as we willingly become His instruments of goodness and cheer. You just have to take the view of God to act like His messenger.
Looking at the more challenging situations, there will be times you will be oppressed for voicing out your objections to injustice and suffering. In the First Reading, the Prophet Jeremiah was sentenced to suffering and possible death and was thrown into the cistern of Prince Malchiah. The prophet was later rescued by the king upon the intercession of Ebed-melech, a court official. When encountering the same trials and challenges, let us be comforted by the thought that the Lord will hear our cry, as He did to the Prophet Jeremiah,
“The LORD heard my cry. He drew me out of the pit of destruction, out of the mud of the swamp; he set my feet upon a crag; he made firm my steps.” (Ps. 40: 2-3)
Today, let us pray for the strength and courage to stand our ground against injustice and suffering. Let us pray for the Holy Spirit to lead us through in these confusing and difficult times. We pray that we be wise and discerning to listen to His voice in the scheme of everyday life.
“My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them, and they follow me.” (Jn. 10: 27)