Jesus said to his disciples:
“I have come to set the earth on fire,
and how I wish it were already blazing!
There is a baptism with which I must be baptized,
and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!
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;
a father will be divided against his son
and a son against his father,
a mother against her daughter
and a daughter against her mother,
a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”
Paul announced to us yesterday the wonders of the ministry of God’s love that, hidden for centuries, has been revealed in Christ. Today in the first reading (Eph 3: 14-21), out of the astonishment that this ministry exercised over Paul, a vibrant prayer of love springs forth. The apostle falls on his knees before the Father, the origin of every family in heaven and on earth (v.15), and asks that the Christians of Ephesus be strengthened with power within them by the Holy Spirit (v.16). Paul asks that their faith be authentic and vigorous, so that Christ may dwell in their hearts and, for this reason, may grow in them the typical and foundational element of belonging to God in Christ Jesus: charity.
Paul knows that only those who are “rooted and grounded in love” (v.17), in communion with other believers, are able to understand “the breadth, length, height and depth” of the love that far exceeds all human measure and category (v.18). And it is that, indeed, it is by God and with the grace of God that we can carry out our wonderful vocation: that of being filled “with the fullness of God” (v.19).
The gospel today makes us understand that we are not “naturally” willing to accept all “the fullness of God”; the expansion of our heart to the dimensions of the Christian vocation is not something that takes place spontaneously. This plenitude (“peace”) cannot be reached without spiritual combat. Jesus always offered a greeting of peace and every time he appears after the resurrection he offered peace, however, Jesus is decidedly against pacifism and conformism: against that false pacifism that leads to mediocrity, cowardice, sadness and lack of conversion, in few words to the lack of a full life.
“Do you believe that I have come to bring peace? No, but division.” (V 51) How? Is this not the same Teacher and Lord that, in His last intercession for His children, He prayed to the Father that they would all be one, that they would be of “one heart and one soul” (John 17)? It does not mean there is a contradiction, but a deepening destined to obtain a greater clarity.
The statement of Jesus that we have in the Gospel for today is frightening: “I have come to cast a fire upon the earth; how I wish it were already kindled.” He is throwing fire down, much like the God who destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.
This is why Jesus wants to cast a consuming fire on the earth. He wants to burn away all that is opposed to God’s desire for us. He has to clear the ground before something new can be built. Is this utterly painful? Yes!
The disciple of Christ must open his heart and transform the environment in which he lives to the peace of Christ, which surpasses all understanding. The follower of Jesus must separate himself from those who belong, in the mind and in the heart, to that world that “lies under the power of the evil one” (1 Jn 5:19). “It is not possible to serve God and money” (Mt 6:24), said Jesus. But this is not only about money, but about any other idol that, sometimes housed in the minds and hearts of their relatives, prevents the disciple from growing up in the Kingdom of God, the source of peace and love.
What idol do you need to remove from your life to be faithful to God and to live a life full of peace?