In this morning’s gospel we are surprised by Christ’s attitude. We have come know Jesus as the compassionate, the peacemaker, the merciful. His attitude towards his apostles, his disciples and those he meets during his ministry was one of fellowship, brotherhood, love. But this morning he seems to almost hurl his words at us: ‘I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!’ and: ‘Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.’ and he continues in talking about a house, a family, divided. How does this reconcile with our understanding of the prince of peace?
We can know much about Jesus; we can dive deep into study and reflection of our Lord; but as important as that is, it is not what our faith calls for. It is a very big mistake on our part to only ‘study’ our Lord; Pope Benedict in his first encyclical writes: ‘Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person…’ We need to know Jesus himself; we need to build and deepen a relationship with Him. As we become closer to Him then words like today’s gospel start to open up into the loving, not threatening, message that they truly are. We need to embrace the love of Christ with our love for Him.
Where do we start? Where can we go to step into this relationship that is so needed? How can we be sure that we are building a true friendship, a loving relationship?
This evening we start the celebration of the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She who loved God absolutely. She who offered her body and life to God Himself. She who embraced Christ every day and built a mother’s love for her child as she deepened her love for God. She who, at the cross embraced all humanity with a mother’s embrace. She who, has come to us through the millennia to introduce us to Jesus. Let’s look to her as our guide to Christ, as our model for our relationship with her Son. She loves us with all her heart and soul. Let’s ask her for the wisdom to deepen our friendship with her Son.
It is then that all of Christ’s words will come into clearer focus and consistency. It is then that His words this morning will take on the attitude of love and we will realize that our hearts will blaze with the fire of true love as He wished.