Now we know why so many mothers in-law have difficulty getting along with their daughters in-law. Sometimes in-laws behave more like out-laws. Every family has its share of problems. However, the day-to-day struggles that we face are not what Jesus was talking about.
Jesus was speaking about the divisions that would arise because of Christianity. Christianity was never meant to be a “feel good” religion. Televangelists thrive on preaching that if folks read the Bible, if they recite a certain prayer, if the contribute a significant amount to their cause, then the Lord will be happy with them and grant their requests. Such theology makes us owners of God—that we can somehow manipulate God to do what we want. Lots of folks come looking for answers to complicated issues facing our world. We want to defend our political positions, our political party, our moral stance by our religion—convenient—but not Catholic. Our Catholic Faith is about forming our conscience. Our Faith is a way of life—how we treat each other—every day—not just at election time. The temptation is to pour some pro-life or pro-choice into a glass; the accusations; all the anger we feel about a political party and stir it up until election time. We want to defend our actions by our religion. Division is certainly prevalent, but perhaps for the wrong reasons. Whites against the blacks; police against protestors; gun control or those in favor of no gun control. The issues are countless but have nothing to do with the passion of the Gospel. Jesus died to save us from ourselves. He died like a criminal. That was the baptism He was talking about—the fire which burned in His Sacred Heart—the death on the cross. The price for our salvation was His life.
Blasphemy was shouted by the clergy. Treason was the accusation of the state officials. Working by the power of the devil was what some claimed at the exorcisms Jesus performed. By the time that Jesus went to the cross He had very few followers. The majority had left when they saw the pain involved. Therein lies the division—the dividing line of the real Christian and those who stand on the sidelines just to watch what’s going to happen—the spectators. Once Jesus started speaking about His Passion and Death only a few remained. At first St. Peter wanted no part of the pain.
When we blow away the smoke from the trial of Jesus, the main reason that He was crucified was because of the company He kept. From the start, Jesus caused great scandal when He associated with sinners. Heads turned, gossip ran wild, people were shocked to see Him touching women who were impure. Seems like the Lord went out of His way to reach out to the poor—another big “no no”. The poor, like those who were sick were considered punished by God—somehow deserving of their fate because of sin. Little wonder why the poor flocked to Him, especially after Jesus gave away free meals—to thousands of people. The loaves and the fish became very popular. However, the consequences gave rise to suspicion of someone who dared to be different. Jesus did not want to follow the rules. A non-conformist who paid with His life but did not sacrifice the truth. The truth is that we are all created by God, loved without conditions. A truth that to this day, is not accepted by many, even those who call themselves Christians. Because like the distinctions. We enjoy the distance between classes. And we still consider poverty, which is the greatest form of violence, a fact of life. After all, we can’t all have the same.
Indeed there are divisions. Many of them we have created. The division that matters most is between those who are willing to accept the mercy of God and those who turn their backs to unconditional love.