Today’s passage, from Saint Luke’s Gospel, more often than not may have us scratching our heads asking what Jesus is saying. It does not sound like the Jesus that I have come to know and believe in. Let’s take it apart.
“I HAVE COME TO SET THE EARTH ON FIRE”
What is Jesus saying here? We know that fire can be both destructive and purifying. Here Jesus is using the term in the purifying sense. Just as a blast furnace purifies the ore that is placed within it, by removing the impurities, in order that the pure product may result. Jesus wants us to be purified; so that the impurities might be removed from us.
“THERE IS A BAPTISM WITH WHICH I MUST BE BAPTIZED”
What is this baptism that Jesus is referring to? It is not the one that we are used to hearing about – the one with water. The baptism he is referring to is His passion – death upon the cross and resurrection. It is through this baptism of Jesus that we have been redeemed
“NO, I TELL YOU, BUT RATHER DIVISION”
This is not what we want to hear. But what does it truly mean? Here Jesus understands our human nature. Some will understand the words of Jesus precisely as He intends, some will run it through the process of their minds and see it as they want to see it. In other words misinterpret it. There may even be disagreements in families and even in churches on what Jesus truly said. What results are “camps” where neither side can agree on anything or even compromise. This is where the Holy Spirit, if we allow it, will begin to break down the walls allowing us to be in peace and harmony with one another.
Before the word FOCUS GROUP became popular with industry, Jesus was already working the program. He is the original FOCUS. Jesus wants us not only to focus on Him on a daily basis, but also to live out His words and actions. What seems to be happening in our world today is that we (the Church) stand directly in opposition to the world that wants to water down the words of Jesus or have His words treated as one of the many great philosophers, so that we can pick and choose what we want to believe and follow – the buffet approach. It won’t work. Let us listen to the words of Jesus: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” And let us regain our focus on Jesus and live His way.