By Thomas Gumbleton
I think most of us are kind of shocked and maybe confused when we hear Jesus say, “Do you think I have come to bring peace on earth?” We expect yes, but instead he says, “No, I tell you, but rather division.” Then he shows how that division cuts through the human family at every level, right down into our immediate families where sometimes we feel the most severe division that brings great pain and hurt within a family.
How can that be? Jesus, born in Bethlehem, angels singing, “Peace on earth to those of good will,” Jesus the Prince of Peace, and he says, “No, I came to bring division.” What is happening is merely, at one sense, a matter of grammar. We think when Jesus says, “I came to bring division,” that that was his intention. But what he’s doing is merely stating a fact. Ultimately, he does promise us peace, but that peace doesn’t come just as a gift falling from heaven. No, it’s a result of the reign of God.
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[Homily given at St. Leo Parish, Detroit, Mich. The transcripts of Bishop Gumbleton’s homilies are posted weekly to NCRonline.org. Sign up here to receive an email alert when the latest homily is posted.]