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Mass prep – 3 points/30 seconds: Why does Jesus bring division?

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Fr. Paweł Rytel-Andrianik - published on 08/13/22

This is one of the most difficult sentences of the Gospel to comprehend and has to be understood in context.

The Gospel for this Sunday is Luke 12:49-53

1. Not peace, but division

“Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” This is one of the most difficult sentences of the Gospel to comprehend. It can only be understood in the context in which it was written. 

2. Keywords

I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! 

In Scripture, fire is a sign of God’s presence. The revelation of the Lord God to Moses in the burning bush is one example. Fire is also a symbol of purification and judgment that will reveal the truth.

The Patriarch of Jerusalem. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, emphasizes in his commentary on this Gospel that Jesus came to cancel the distance that separated man from his Creator. 

There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! 

The baptism Jesus is talking about here is his Passion, death, and resurrection. Through such baptism, as if through a gate, Jesus enters new life in eternity as God and man. 

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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.

The beautiful thing about the Gospel is that it doesn’t sugarcoat, but tells the truth. Jesus predicts that faithfulness to values will be costly. He says that if someone wants to follow him and live the gospel, they will go against the flow. Sometimes even the closest ones in their family will oppose them if they want to truly live the Gospel.

Jesus warns Christians that just as people persecuted him, they will also persecute us. The most important thing is not to be discouraged and follow Jesus, because this way is truly happiness-giving. 

3. Today

There is a proverb that fits very well as a commentary on today’s Gospel: “Only dead fish swim with the current, living fish swim against it.” 

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