In today’s Gospel we have some words from Jesus that are not characteristic of him when he says he has come to ‘cast a fire upon the earth that there will be not peace, but division.’ Jesus is called the Prince of Peace. So often in the Gospel he talked about the gift that I will give is my peace. When he appeared to the Apostles he said, ‘Peace be with you.’ And so there’s a message of peace there and yet today we see where Jesus is saying, ‘I have come not to establish peace but division.’ And those words that I have come is not a sense of purpose but a sense of reality and that that is really the point of this that Jesus is saying my words will cause division, not that I want that division, not that I want that separation because his whole mission is that of reconciliation of bringing about unity, of bringing about true peace and harmony between ourselves and God and therefore among ourselves, but he knows the reality is that there will be division that those who choose to follow God, those who choose to be faithful to God’s word to God’s truth will experience division within their lives and that’s the challenge, that’s the reality that we all face. Unfortunately, there are those times in which people experience that rejection. I know I’ve talked to more than one person in the RCIA who has said that by exploring becoming a Catholic and making that commitment to becoming a Catholic, how difficult that was because of the divisions that that created within the family and yet Jesus predicted that and certainly the people in the time in which Luke’s Gospel was written was very much aware that there would be divisions because fidelity to God is always gonna be at cast purposes to the sinfulness of humanity. There’s always gonna be those challenges. There’s always gonna be those difficulties. The people in the time of Luke’s Gospel were experiencing persecution that had already taken place in Jarusalem, in Rome. Peter and Paul had already been martyred. They were experiencing the rejection and the divisions and Luke in his Gospel wanted to recognize, yes that’s part of the reality. The cross is part of the reality. To be faithful to Christ, to be faithful to the word of God does not mean that we will be politically correct. Yes, there are many things in which we are challenged to become better in political correctness, but there’s other things in political correctness that are diametrically opposed to the word of God and to the truth that Jesus reveals and we are called and challenged to be faithful to that truth.
One of the things that we say to young people or to anyone we are trying to teach a sport, it’s one of the reasons I don’t play golf because I could never do this, but the rule is to keep your eye on the ball. Keep your eye on the ball that that is so very important not in some athletic venture, but it’s important in all of our life and that’s the message in that second reading today. Keep your eyes on Christ Jesus. In the midst of the challenges, in the midst of the temptations, in the midst of the divisions that may be there and yes, sometimes those divisions are even within our own hearts. It’s a division not between ourselves and others, but the divisions that we experience by our unruly passions that may challenge and tear at each other, but the message is keep your eye upon Jesus, keep your eye upon his truth and his love. It doesn’t mean there won’t be challenges. It doesn’t mean there won’t be difficulties. It doesn’t mean we won’t be rejected and misunderstood, but it is important because Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and the challenge for each of us is to keep our eye faithfully and to follow Jesus.”