The Fires of Division

Luke 12: 49-53
Eph 3: 14-21 / Psa 33

Do you think that I have come to establish peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.
(Luke 12:51)

We must be bold to face the fires
Of life’s trials and tribulation;
This much from us our faith requires,
It’s for our own purification.

Jesus said: “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed! Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. For from now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three. A father will be divided against his son and a son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” (Luke 12: 49-53)


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 who were ordered 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 experience. 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 the 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 Catholics who are Masons. During the necrological services for a friend 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.

Our own Christian renewal Brotherhood was not spared of this fire of division. Recently, our community also experienced a division of our Davao chapter into East and West. For the first time after seventeen years as a single chapter, we felt like being “torn apart into two.” At first there were apprehensions that the sudden reduction in numbers might affect the attendance in our prayer meetings and breakfast fellowships. But our fears were proven wrong when more guests were being invited to fill the vacuum. In the end, it turned out that division was the answer for our multiplication, and its fire, we’ve realized, is also one of purification, because many of us have gained a stronger faith for it.

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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