Twentieth Sunday In Ordinary Time, August 19, 2007

 

Jeremiah 38: 4-6, 8-10
Hebrews 12: 1-4

Luke 12: 49-53

What must we break with?

Jesus gave his disciples a rather astonishing warning. Borrowing the vocabulary that John the Baptist has used to announce the Messiah who would baptize believers with fire and the Spirit, he announced the trials that those who followed him would endure. Jesus says that he will even bring division within families. Does Jesus not desire peace for his own? If this were so, we would have something that contradicted both his message and his own attitudes particularly at the time of his Passion. In fact, Jesus is only repeating the prophesy of Micah 7, 6 that is fulfilled by his coming: a man will have people from his own house as his enemies. Why? Because his message provokes division. Jesus becomes the source of division between those who adhere to his word and those who reject it. The Epistle to the Hebrews reminds us : he endured the hostility of those who refused his message, the shame and the humiliation of the Cross.

But the Gospel text invites us to go further. In order to follow Christ more closely, wont we have to break with a relative, a member of our family, something of our daily life? Wont there be an authoritarian parent to oppose so that our following of Christ may be free, energetic and not motivated by an idea or a duty to fulfill? Perhaps we shall have to break with a manipulative parent who taught us that it is all important to succeed, who secretly pushes us to place personal ambition before the Kingdom? Or perhaps it is the parent who is the educator telling us what we should think politically or religiously and who keeps us from hearing what others might have to say? In short, each one must plumb the depths of his or her heart to find what has to be rejected for love of Christ. Each one has also to discern with sincerity to what degree we have become a parent or relative who subtly turns another away from the Gospel path.

 

—Sr. Sophie Ramond, RA