Fires of Division

Luke 12: 49-53
Rom 6:19-23 / Psa 1

Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.
(Luke 12:51)

Let us hold fast to face the fires
Of life’s trials and tribulation,
This much from us our faith requires
For our own purification.

(Jesus said to His disciples), “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already kindled! There is a baptism that I must undergo, and how great is my anguish until it is completed! Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” (Luke 12:49-53)

Reflection

We find many accounts in the Bible when fire fell from heaven. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by fire and brimstone in the book of Genesis, 19:24-25. Moses called down fire from heaven as one of the ten plagues against the obstinacy of Pharaoh (Exodus 9:3). The prophet Elijah also called down fire from heaven that destroyed the soldiers of King Ahaziah whom he sent to fetch Elijah (2 Kings 1:9-17). But Jesus was not talking about the Old Testament kind of destructive fire. Our Lord was simply conditioning His disciples about the baptism of fire that He would soon undergo, and which they too would have to follow. However, they would be given the fire of the Holy Spirit first on Pentecost so that they could persevere in their trials of fire in their mission to spread the faith. Perhaps Jesus was also making a prophecy about the fires of division that His Church would undergo in the future generations.

The early Church was almost divided between the camps of Sts. Peter and Paul, due to the question of applying Judaic laws to the gentile converts. Then came the breaking away of the Eastern Orthodox Church from Rome. This was followed by the fire of Protestantism that split Christendom in Medieval Europe. Even in the present age, the Church continues to be rocked by the so-called liberation theology advocated by some members of the church hierarchy, and the disobedience of Catholic Masons. During the internment services for a member’s brother one afternoon, the officiating priest bluntly acknowledged in his homily that he was a Mason and started to defend his brotherhood against excommunication, much to the dismay of the conservative Catholics present.

Even our own renewal community was not spared of this fire of division. When the national president of our organization came to our city to mediate certain differences among the members, he displayed the wisdom of his leadership when he commented that perhaps our chapter had finally reached the point when altercations among some of its leaders could no longer be avoided because we had become too complacent. Because of our numbers, we were losing “the fire of evangelization” which used to burn brightly during the early years of the chapter. The time had come to rekindle that fire by dividing our community into two chapters: East and West. Suddenly, it seemed to dawn on all the members that our national leader had just cut the “Gordian knot”, and not long afterwards, two camps of leaders had formed as the nuclei of two new chapters of the organization. In the end, it showed us that the fire of division is also one of multiplication, because the mission of spreading the Good News of our Lord Jesus has become a two-pronged thrust, and all the members have gained a stronger faith for it, and a renewed zeal to serve the Lord.

Dear God, may the fire of the Holy Spirit transform us and fill us with boldness, that we may enkindle Your message of salvation in the hearts of other people. Amen.

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