“Do you suppose that I am here to bring peace on earth?”, this is the question Jesus posed in this Sunday’s Gospel. He then answered it Himself; “No, I tell you, but rather division” !!!
When we recall that Jesus declared that Peacemakers are blessed (Mat. 5 :9), and that He prayed for the peace of His followers (John 14 :27), and that one of the fruits of His Spirit is peace (Gal. 5 :22), we may find this reading somewhat surprising. What could He have meant by saying that he came not to bring peace but division?
The division Jesus mentions is a result of His teaching which, if followed, should purify the way we live – and set us part from the world. It will be like the purifying fire which he wished was ‘already blazing’. People would have to accept or reject his message, and it was inevitable that those who chose to follow his teaching would be opposed and even persecuted by those who refused to do so – even within the family. This was true especially in Palestine of Our Lord’s time where rejection of the Jewish tradition would meet with violent opposition. Our Lord Himself faced hatred, pain and even death in order to fulfil the will of his Father and save sinners. His followers would be called on to share to some degree in their Lord’s lot. There is a cost to His discipleship, but the rewards far outweigh the cost.
Of course, He came to bring peace, but it is not the peace this world can give.