The Jewish people anticipated a Messiah who would come and bring about peace on Earth, reconciling man to man. Christ, however, does not do that. Rather, He comes so that man might be reconciled to God not so that man would be reconciled to Man.
The salvific message of Jesus Christ is indeed that of the sword. Christ doesn’t come to bring us comfort and peace in this life but instead He comes to bring about the sword and division upon the Earth. St. Luke’s Gospel reminds us that Our Blessed Lord said, “I have come to bring fire on the earth and how I wish it were already burning!”
What does it mean that Christ comes to bring division? We are given but one choice – we can either have our earthly lives or we can have eternal life – we cannot have both! Jesus Christ himself tells us “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Anyone who loves Father or mother, son or daughter, brother or sister, and by analogy, nephew, cousin, neighbor, etc, etc. more than ME he says, is not worthy of me.
The First Commandment is this, I am the Lord your God, you shall have no other Gods before me. What “gods” do we put before the true God. Do we look the other way when others sin for the sake of temporal peace and harmony? Do we choose to refrain from charitably correcting others in serious error or grave sin because we want to maintain “peace?” For example, when we know of a Catholic who chooses to get married outside of the Church, in contradiction to God’s law and the law of his Church, do we charitably admonish our brother or sister about the error of their ways or do we simply choose to attend and thereby give tacit approval all for the sake of “maintaining a peaceful relationship?” Perhaps we fail to make the sign of the cross in public or pray grace before meals in restaurants because of what others may think of us! Whoever loves father of mother more than me is not worthy of me!
If we value our relationships with our loved ones more than we value the salvation of their souls and our love for God almighty, then, my friends, we are indeed not worthy of Him.
Christ came about to bring division, but he also came to bring about peace. How can this be when the two seem opposed to one another? Jesus knew very well the spirit of the world and its ways. He knew that to separate ourselves from the world that division would be necessary and that this division would not occur just between those who oppose us but even between those we love. It is not easy when we are forced to choose between Christ or the ways of the world but choose we must. If we choose to live life on our own terms, then we must expect the sword but it we choose to live on the terms of Jesus Christ, and place Him first above all other things, only then can true peace be obtained. Failing to say the things that needs to be said, or do the things that need to be done, even to our most beloved of family and friends, for the sake of temporal peace is not true peace but rather the tool of division that is from Satan himself. Peace in this manner, will ultimately bring about eternal division.
It is better to be divided here for a time upon Earth for the sake of salvation than to suffer eternal division by having ourselves or our loved ones tossed into the fiery lake of Gehenna for all eternity because we were more comfortable with maintaining a false sense of peace than we were with the salvation of souls.
The Good news is this – if we remain faithful to Christ and put His kingdom above the earthly kingdom, not only can there be peace in eternity but there can be peace here as well. There can be no true peace apart from the truth! Our collect from Today’s Mass reminds us [Let us not] “be wrapped in the darkness of error but always be seen to stand in the bright light of truth.” Jesus Christ reminds us that if we remain faithful to him and are indeed willing to sacrifice our wills in this life for the sake of His, that he will raise us on the last day to that kingdom where there is no division and where we shall be with Him as he reigns for all eternity in the true peace of truth.
May the Lord Jesus Christ give us the strength to remain faithful to Him and so that when our earthly lives are over, we may lose our earthly lives so that we may gain eternal life. Amen,