Homily — 20th Sunday OT C August 19, 2007

Homily — 20th Sunday OT C                     August 19, 2007

I have come not to establish peace, but division.

These words of Our Lord Jesus in today’s Gospel seem, at first glance, to totally contradict other words of Christ, and other Old Testament passages about Him.

The prophet Isaiah, for example, says that the Messiah shall be called . . . .the Prince of Peace.

Psalm 72 says that Peace (shall flourish) until the moon is no more in the days of the Christ.

Even the angels on Christmas Night sang out “Glory . . . in Highest Heaven, and Peace on Earth.”

Jesus Himself, in the Sermon on the Mount, declared “Blessed are the Peacemakers, they will be called the children of God

And on Easter Sunday Night, Jesus appeared to His apostles and said to them Peace be with you.

But Jesus in today’s Gospel says “Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?  No, I tell you, but rather division.  From now on, (even) households will be divided (against each other).”

And the first half of the Gospel shows us that Jesus, the Prince of Peace, is not at peace inside — rather, Jesus is restless, full of unsatisfied desire, and in great anguish for his work to be completed.

How do we reconcile Jesus the Prince of Peace and Peace Maker, with Jesus the Stumbling Block and Division Maker?  Should we be singing “Let there be division on earth, and let it begin with me”?

The answer is that there really isn’t any contradiction in these two views of Jesus.  For Jesus came to bring peace and to bring division.

If we look closer at the hymn the angels sang on Christmas night, we hear them saying “Peace on earth to men of good will.”

Men and women of good will, men and women open to the Truth, whoever they may be, these are the people Jesus came to bring Peace to, a Peace which flows from knowing Christ and living His Gospel with a clear conscience.

Men and women of bad will, or even of indifferent will, men and women closed to Truth, or not caring about what’s true or not, these will refuse the Peace Christ offers them, and even be opposed to Christ and those who follow Him.

And due to the fallen world we live in, spreading the Peace of Christ will always bring a division with it between those who accept his peace and those who do not accept it.

The flip side of Blessed are the Peacemakers is Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you for spreading my peace.

And finally, just as Jesus in a way wasn’t very much at peace inwardly during His days on earth, neither should his disciples be very much at peace inwardly either.

How I wish the Fire were already blazing!  Jesus cried in the Gospel.  What anguish I am in until it is accomplished!

Of course, Jesus no longer has that restlessness and holy impatience, now that He is glorified in Heaven, with Mary at His right hand.

Jesus our Head is totally at peace in the land of eternal
peace.  But the Body of Christ, the Church on earth, will until
the end of time continue to be restless and in anguish for the Fire to be blazing.

Restless for the conversion of that mother, that father, that son or daughter, that mother-in-law or father-in-law to come to know the burning love Christ has for them, and the abiding peace that comes from knowing Jesus.

May Jesus the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant us in this Eucharist not only that peace which comes from knowing and serving Him.

May he also grant us that Holy Restlesness and Impatience He had in this life, for the total conversion of all peoples, especially ourselves and our families, to His Love.

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