Many think Jesus came as a peaceful man, who wants everyone gets along with each other. The Gospel today shows this is not true. Jesus saidI came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! … do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! Jesus Christ came specifically to cause division, because his Gospel preaches the Truth and many will not accept the Truth. There are many who teach what society wants to hear, preferring the praises of men, rather than being obedient to God. Yet, Jesus says, he brings fire and he brings division, because unity requires unity in God’s Truth not at the expense of God’s Truth. And if those who are supposed to preach God’s Truth will not do so, then those who can should stand up and step into the breach.
When we do, we will be persecuted. People will hate us and we will suffer, just as Paul said in the First Reading. Which is why he prays: God may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. We need to be grounded in love, not in the feel good, unoffensive love. But in divine love that gives of ourselves for the good of others and for the glory of God.
St John Paul II shows how to confront persecutions. When he was still an archbishop in Poland, he stood against the communist regime without fear. And his first words as Pope was “Do not be afraid”. Indeed, what is there to fear when we are grounded in God’s love, when we comprehend the breadth, the length, the height, the depth and know the love of Christ? God’s love propels us to speak his Truth in love. God’s love moves us to divide ourselves from the lies of society. God’s love moves us to remain steadfast in the fire Jesus brings to earth, to purify us, to strengthen us and to form us into what he wants.
Do not be afraid in the face of suffering. Stand into the breach when those who should will not.
Lord Jesus, come with your fire. Purify my heart. Purify your Church. Give me courage to stand for YOUR Truth, to trust in YOUR Love and to persevere in your Power so your name will be proclaimed and glorified. St John Paul II, pray for us. Teach us not to be afraid. Teach us to trust in Jesus alone.