The Gospel Today
Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lk. 12: 49-53
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.”
Reflection (Sem. Emmanuel Calumpong):
There is a song that goes: “My peace I give unto you, it’s a peace that the world cannot give. It’s a peace that the world cannot understand….” The lines speak about Jesus’ brand of peace as something beyond the world’s capacity to produce and even comprehend.
Clearly, He does not mean serene, tranquil, and calm scenery but rather, promises episodes of struggles and conflicts even among family members. This is bound to happen when one decides to follow Him closely especially when one is met with opposing and contrary values. The world usually offers a different set of principles and perspectives that may run perpendicular to that of Jesus. This opposition, sadly, has faces – familiar faces. The hardest opposition that one has to face can come from people who are closest to the heart.
In the gospel, Jesus anticipates the hard consequences of discipleship. It is clear that the decision to follow Him for the sake of the kingdom is oftentimes unacceptable, impractical, incomprehensible, or an offense to basic logic and even culture. I experienced this when I decided to enter the seminary. I was not only met with greetings of encouragement and thanksgiving but I was also the receiving end of criticisms. However, there was this peace in me that somehow led my family and specially colleagues in the profession to understand, but it was a peace that was not easy to give or understand. As I look back, I realize that it was part of the process. I know that in the future, this life that I chose to live will again be a magnet of conflicts and division, in the same way that His was a life that was considered a sign of contradiction in Israel.
Sometimes we wish that Jesus will not be as demanding. It would be great if He remains the ideal poster guy in calendars, a crowned king and not the crucified one. But again, Jesus did not mean to be pleasant and accommodating in the first place for His peace cannot be obtained easily by worldly standards. He will even lead us to where we dare not go. His peace goes beyond our self-defined and self-willed notions: it is the peace that disturbs so that choosing Him will truly be genuine and driven by love.
ook us in his arms and bless us as he did to the little children.