Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today’s is a tough passage.

Division in families, particularly between parents and their children.  Fire being set on the earth, with Jesus watching it blaze.  It sounds like something out of a horror film!

And yet, what seems to be happening is that Jesus is acknowledging the reality of the complexity of human relationships, especially in family life, in the here and now, that is, before the fullness of the Kingdom of God is realized and accomplished by God.

At Mass on Sundays and during the week, we often hear the priest, deacon, or lector offering prayers for “peace among nations, and in our own hearts.”  These are good and holy prayers, but cannot be left entirely up to God to accomplish.  Being co-workers of God in His vineyard, we are called to work toward disposing human hearts, especially our own, to receiving and living out that peace, for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

The peace of God is not simply a calming feeling we get when we meditate for a few minutes before our busy day.  It is not simply an absence of violence, bloodshed, and war.  It is not merely the cessation of argument among family members.  All of these are good things, and steps in the right direction toward the peace that God sustains in us.  However, we know that the peace of God must permeate all our relationships in order for the Kingdom of God to be more fully realized.  In other words, we cannot pick and choose to whom we choose to share the peace of God, but must offer it to all of our brothers and sisters, perhaps especially those we find most difficult to love: they could be in our own household or kin nearby, or they could be halfway around the world, in the midst of a country, culture, or religion not our own.

Nobody said it would be easy.  In fact, when the Lord said, “Love your enemies”, this was and is perhaps less easy a thing to handle and understand than the mystery of God-in-flesh, crucified and resurrected.

Lord, let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.  May your Kingdom come, may your will be done.

August 18th, 2013