Peace and Division

Back to school week for most of us means back to business, including meeting to Encounter Christ in the upcoming Sunday gospel together as a group.  Usually one of our well-attended gatherings, we were happy there were a few more than normal in attendance for digesting the challenging nature of this gospel passage.  Christ explains that by following his example, we may face opposition, even in our families.

Gospel LK 12:49-53

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.”
Reflections from the Group
No, I tell you, but rather division…
So many times we try to make Jesus something he isn’t.  He tells us very clearly that he came to divide, or perhaps delineate.  To understand what that means for each of us, we must be obedient to his teachings, which can be difficult for many when obedience calls us toward self-sacrifice.  Persisting in prayer with total trust in God’s plan is the only way through the anguish.
Just before this passage in scripture, Christ is teaching his disciples against greed and unfaithfulness; he reminds them to have courage in persecution. Within the perspective of The twelfth chapter of Luke, Sunday’s passage continues the call to obedience and turning from our attachment toward sin.
From now on a household of five will be divided,
three against two and two against three;

This week, many of us are taking kids to college (or back to college) and the last thing we wanted to think about as we say good-bye is watching them fall away from faith, particularly at an age when going to mass suddenly seems to be “optional”.  We all realize our responsibility to keep ourselves faithful to God and do our best to teach our families to do the same, and sometimes that means just attending to our own holiness to lead by example.

Culturally speaking, we hear things like “Let’s just keep the peace.” In mass last week, one of our group members heard a priest explain that “keeping the peace” by looking the other way or twisting the scriptures to suit our poor choices is not intention of “peace” as a virtue.  We have to keep a hierarchy of intention with our understanding of peace.  Many people bristle at the idea of what is “dogma” or truth because it seems oppressive or restrictive to their “personal freedoms.”  We quickly and unanimously agreed as a group that we have all experienced the deep and profound sense of true freedom, which only comes from following God’s path for our lives; even if it means sacrificing something that seems difficult at first. Why? Because He created us out of love; He loved us first.  When we respond to His perfect love we are naturally fulfilled.
Christ reminds us in John 14:27:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.
The peace we have in following Jesus is always present, even in adversity.  Praying our rosary daily and meditating on the mysteries of Christ’s life, death and resurrection, gives us the perspective of what true sacrificial love looks like: a Father who gave His only son over for creatures that often reject His very existence, and He loves them anyway.
Where human relationships and faith intersect, there will always be a possibility for strife.  Family, relatives, friendships, dating, neighbors; all of these can teeter subjectively as faith materializes in our individual actions, invariably affecting others.  Some may accept God’s truth and some may deny it, and that is where we see division occur.  We often want to boil Jesus’ message down to niceties when, in fact, it boils down to justice and obedience: things that can make one’s life uncomfortable on a personal level but profoundly peace-filled on the interior.
Although we may be willing follow Christ, others may not be ready.  Our perseverance in serving God by remaining steadfast to His truths is what we are called to do, all the while being an example of charity and kindness to those around us. Charity in truth is always delicate, so we have a policy of whispering “Come, Holy Spirit!” when difficulties arise.
Small Prayers Make a Big Difference
With all the relevance of the gospel still lingering, we turned to discuss the case of a mother who prayed daily for her family, in hopes of them remaining close to Jesus and their faith.  While preparing to send kids off to school with this concern in mind, two of them came to her (separately) with a plan for themselves to have a group of faithful friends with whom they could attend mass each week.  As our kids go off to live in other locations, or even just attend middle school and high school, we must persevere in prayer for their faith, trusting that God will answer those prayers someday in some way.
Virtues to practice: HOPE; Fortitude and Fidelity/persistence
How we will act: This week we will write down three to five things each day where we saw God at work in our lives, and give thanks for answered prayers. (These must be specific situations, not just “food, family, etc.”)
How we will pray: We will be persistent in praying our rosary each day, particularly for our family’s faith.
What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family. –St Teresa of Calcutta 
Be at peace with your own soul, then Heaven and earth will be at peace with you. –St Jerome
St Jerome
While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it more fully in your heart. –St Francis of Assisi 
St Francis

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