Thursday of the Twenty-ninth Week of Ordinary Time

Today’s readings

People often don’t really get who Jesus was and what he came to do.  So many people think it’s the “kumbaya” kind of love and harmony.  They would assert that Jesus was all about being peaceful and accepting.  But saying that is really misunderstanding Jesus and who he was and what he came to accomplish. Because peace wasn’t necessarily his primary interest, at least not peace in the way that we would probably define it.

Because sometimes I think we misread what peace is supposed to be. We might sell peace short and settle for the absence of conflict. Or even worse, we may settle for peace at any price, swallowing our disagreements and never coming close to true healing in our relationships. There are families in which never a harsh word would be said, but the underlying hostility is palpable. There are workplaces in which there are never any arguments, but there is also never any cooperative work done. Sometimes there are relationships where fear replaces love and respect.

And this is not the kind of peace that Jesus would bring us today. Frankly, this isn’t the kind of peace he even came to bring us: that kind of peace isn’t worthy of dying on a cross, is it?  No, our Jesus is the One who came to set the earth on fire, and his methods for bringing us to peace might well cause division in the here and now. But there is never any resurrection if we don’t have the cross. Just so, there will never be any peace if we don’t confront what’s really happening. The fire may need to be red hot and blazing if there is ever to be any regrowth.

And so today we have to stop settling for a peace that really isn’t so peaceful. We may just have to have that hard conversation we’ve been trying to avoid. Of course, we do it with love for our brothers and sisters, but out of love we also don’t avoid it. We have to work for true healing in all of our relationships. May all of our divisions lead to real peace!