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.”
While I don't think anyone would accuse me of being a Pollyanna regarding the human condition or what we face as Christians in today's world, this gospel is still a sobering reminder to me.
Our Lord's words should not be construed as a statement expressing his wishes, but a no - nonsense appraisal of reality: the reality of what happens when the Truth confronts Sin, when Love confronts Self. You see, we always have the choice of whether to accept and acknowledge the Truth, whether we will live for Love or for Self. And, unfortunately, some people, when confronted with the choice, will choose badly. Some sin one person wants to cling to will lead him to reject the Truth, and the One who brings it. Another person will reject Love so as to go on living with her Self enthroned in her heart.
And such people often react vehemently against the Truth and Love. It is not enough for them to reject it - they will not rest till you reject it as well. They will even go so far as to attempt to banish the Truth from discourse and society: to silence its voice, so as to avoid its continual and implicit accusation.
So Truth and Love, against all reason, bring about conflict. Indeed, the conflict is literally against reason, for Sin and Self are ultimately unreasonable. As a friend has written, "sin makes you stupid."
When the stupidity of Sin and the unreasoning, unrelenting tyranny of Self meet Truth and Love, the result is conflict and division. That conflict came to a head against Our Lord, and its confluence was Calvary. The Cross is where Sin and Self sought once and for all to destroy Truth and Love.
Fortunately, we know how that story ended. Sin and Self succeeded only in destroying themselves. Some, unfortunately, still cling to those defeated spectres. For those, let us pray.