October 22, 2020 – Thursday of the 29th Week in Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/102220.cfm)
We desire for peace. We long for harmony. We want a life without disturbances and troubles. This is the reason why we also ask God for peace of mind and peace in our homes because in one way or another, we are experiencing some sort of difficulties. One may be having some sleepless nights because of some personal or family issues or conflicts and misunderstanding. Another must be bothered by an illness or because of demands at work. Some students these days, must be having some troubles too in fulfilling their school projects and finishing their modules.
However, one may be disappointed with what Jesus told us in today’s Gospel. The Lord said, “Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.”
We heard it right. Jesus does not bring peace but division. He is here to disturb us. Yet, what does he really mean? It is very important that we understand the words of Jesus in the context of those who wanted to follow him. The very environment where Jesus spoke these words was characterized by corrupt and self-righteous leaders. The Pharisees and the scholars of the law represented those people who wanted to stay in power, preserve the status quo and secure their comfort. There were Jewish leaders too who became puppets to the Roman Empire in order to secure their wealth and influence.
And these people who succumbed to the cycle of corruption at the expense of the common people, did not want anybody to challenge their peace. Thus, anyone who will dare to confront them was deemed to be a threat to that peace they were enjoying. However, was this “true peace” at all?
This peace is about the comfort and routine of life or ‘business-as-usual.’ This means that one goes and proceeds to what one usually does in life. We may do what we want by satisfying our desires, from mere complacency. This peace only knows about maintaining the status quo, that we are comfortable with and preserving an environment that will not disturb us. Yet, this peace is shallow and remains self-centered. It focuses on our ego. This is not true peace.
When we become complacent and passive, we do not want to be challenged, we do not want to go beyond and become life-giving. We do not want to confront ourselves and others because it might cost us conflict and division or to sacrifice the contentment that we apparently enjoy. We might find ourselves to settle to what is only easy, comfortable and beneficial by doing the same things, thinking the same thoughts and imagining the same ideas to the point that we refuse to do more and give more.
However, Jesus does not want us to just settle with this seemingly peaceful environment. God does not want us to become a person who becomes a prisoner of his/her own selfish desires who will become abusive and corrupt yet most insecure. Jesus does not want us also to just go with the flow and remain passive.
The Lord wants us to find freedom. Jesus is not in favor in making ourselves passive, complacent, and self-satisfied yet stagnant. Jesus wants us to grow, to be mature and to become the person He wants us to be.
The invitation for us is to allow the Lord to touch and to disturb our complacency and passivity so that we will be able to see things differently and wonderfully. As Christians, we too are called to call and confront others when our community and our leaders become passive and complacent.
As we allow the Lord to disturb us, we may be able to see new perspectives in life despite its monotony, more dynamic and life-giving ways of relating with people around us, and a deeper and life-changing encounter with God through the ordinary expression of our faith. And remember, this calls us to be pro-active, honest and courageous in expressing our faith and to the values that we believe as Christians. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR