Monday, June 16, 2008
Brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ,
We often heard about sweet Jesus, Jesus who advises service and to be servant. But in Luke 12: 49-53 we hear totally different Jesus. In this Gospel Jesus says, “I came to bring fire to the earth! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!” In saying this, Jesus teaches us a lot how to face many difficult moments in our life.
Sometimes we think that to follow Jesus is just to follow the sweet Jesus, like many people who know Jesus only from the surface. They think that following Jesus means to be wishy-washy, that is, try to be nice to everybody, so that they never make any decision. These people are coward. They will always say, “Well, I know it’s right, and I have to do something, but you know, bla, bla, bla....”
Or one can say, “We have to follow Jesus who defend the oppressed, opts for the poor, and visits the sick friends.” Then they set a meeting at a poor man’s house. A year before the meeting, however, a bomb blasts in a city very far from that house. Those wishy-washy men then cancelled the meeting for the sake of their safety. The meeting was placed in another “safe” city, then the result of the meeting was so ridiculous, they said, “We are sent to be on the side of our brothers and sisters who are poor and oppressed.”
These kind of people don’t see Jesus completely. Jesus can be really sweet. Oh believe me, he could be so. Remember when Jesus faces the sinners who really acknowledge their sinfulness, he is so tender and so sweet. He touches them, cures them, kisses them, and hugs them. But when he faces the hypocrites, people who think that they have followed the rule perfectly and always consider themselves as the right ones; or when he has to say the truth, Jesus is really tough. He says, “I come to bring fire and division!”
As the followers of Jesus we have to make decision to be like him, not being wishy-washy man. Choosing Jesus means not choosing the other. We have to choose the truth. I remember when I had to choose between being a Jesuit or a Carmelite, my spiritual director said, “A choice is a sacrifice. You have to choose.” In our life we will always have to choose. In facing the culture of death Pope quote the book of Deuteronomy, saying, “See I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil…I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live" (Dt 30:15.19). To choose life means to reject death. Our prophet Elijah, although he was alone in God’s side, he bravely challenged the Israel on Mount Carmel to choose between God or Baal, saying, “How long will you go limping with two opinions? If the Lord is God follow him, but if Baal is God, then follow him!” To choose God means to reject Baal.
However, don’t get me wrong. Jesus never slanders and intentionally spreads divisions. Only the evil one spreads divisions to create chaos. No, Jesus works for peace and unity, he prays for the unity before he died. Remember John 17, the entire prayer is dedicated to the unity: Ut omnes unum sint, that they may be one.
Division is the risk that has to be taken if we choose the right thing to do. Jesus knows it since the beginning, so then he seems to ask us, “Ok let’s take this risk.” Some of the most unexpected crises we face from the opposition of others when we set out to do what we perceive to be good, moral, and right thing to do. Jesus knows how devastating such crises can be, and he warns his followers to be prepared to encounter them also.
So, are we prepared to set fire on the world and take the risk, that is, division? The world will hate you. But remember his encouraging words, “If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18).