“I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled! … Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” (Luke 12:49-51)
Today, we hear Jesus saying that He has not come to bring peace but division and that He has come to cast fire upon the earth. What type of fire is Jesus talking about? As Moses witnessed in Burning Bush, this fire is one that burns but does not consume. It is a fire of the love for God in our hearts which makes us prioritize God over everything and everyone else. This is a fire that purifies us of our attachment to people as well as the things of this world.
In an attempt to praise a certain person who was being introduced at a ceremony, the master of ceremonies described him as “one who has no enemies; a friend of everybody.” As everyone clapped in excitement for this person, someone sitting beside me noted: “If he really has no enemies, then the devil is his friend.” The truth is that if the fire of God’s love burns in our heart, we cannot avoid enemies.
If we love God genuinely, the world (those who are not on the side of God) would hate us fiercely; they would do everything to win us over and when this does not work, they would fight against us. This is what Jesus means when He says He has come to bring division. He told us in John 15:19 “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”
Jesus is not campaigning for division and quarrelling in our homes rather He is stating the reality that we are to expect. No matter how peace-loving you are, at some point, your desire for peace becomes a compromise of your core Christian values. This is when you have to choose between God and your family. In another passage, we hear Jesus saying: “He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:37-38).
Could it be that your own family members become an obstacle in your path in your quest to serve God? Remember the words of Jesus: “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” (Matthew 5:29-30) There are several cases of persons who were disowned by their own parents for converting to the Christian faith, cases of persons whose relationship ended because they refused to give in to fornication, cases of martyrs who were killed by their own relatives for accepting Christ. The list is endless.
The truth is that our hearts are not designed to “serve two masters”; we cannot love God and still love the things that God hates. A lot of Christians today are sitting on the fence; they claim to love God with their lips but their actions tell a different story. This is why St. Paul prays in today’s first reading that we may “know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that [we] may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:19).
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, teach me to love you above everything else and to love my neighbours even when they become hostile to me on account of my love for you. Amen. St. John Paul II, pray for us. Amen.
Bible Study: Ephesians 3:14-21, Psalm 33:1-19 and Luke 12:49-53)