14 August 2016 – 20th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Fr. David LeFort
[Since we hosted the annual Missionary Cooperative Appeal this past weekend, many have asked me to provide some greater insight into the Gospel of this Sunday, thus these simple reflections:]
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.”
Judgment. Jesus is warning his followers of a coming judgment.
Repeatedly, his warnings force us to examine the implications of our commitments. Indeed, it is all too easy to make commitments in one area of life as though they did not affect other areas as well. Jesus warns that those who make a commitment to him will be persecuted, that a commitment of faith also means that our attitude toward material possessions must change, and that moral responsibilities must be taken with even greater seriousness.
Now, in this pericope, Jesus warns that persons who make a commitment to him will find their relationships with others, even those closest to them, affected by that commitment. We cannot make a commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord without its affecting the way we relate to friends and to family members. Because our commitment to Christ shapes our values, priorities, goals, and behavior, it also forces us to change old patterns of life, and these changes may precipitate crises in significant relationships.
Some of the most unexpected crises we face come from the opposition of others when we set out to do what we perceive to be the good, moral, and right thing to do. Jesus himself knew how devastating such crises can be, and he warned his followers to be prepared to encounter them as well.