I was really excited to pray with and write about Jesus's first words in today's Gospel. "I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!" I just think that this line is EPIC. But that's not what the Holy Spirit brought to my attention this morning as I was praying.
"Do you think I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division."
How is today the first time that I've ever actually wrestled with this statement? We call Jesus the "Prince of Peace." How in the world can He say that he didn't come to establish peace!? One of the great Old Testament prophecies about the coming of the Messiah says "Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end" (Isaiah 9:7). It seems totally contradictory.
But I trust that Jesus is who He says He is so I asked the Holy Spirit to help me understand. Jesus offers a lot of seeming contradictions over the course of His ministry. As I prayed with this passage, I was reminded of the two Fulton Sheen quotes that I talked about a few blogs back (Find it here). "America, it is said, is suffering from intolerance - it is not. It is suffering from tolerance. Tolerance of right and wrong, truth and error, virtue and evil, Christ and chaos. Our country is not nearly so overrun with the bigoted as it is overrun with the broadminded" and "Moral principles do not depend on a majority vote. Wrong is wrong, even if everybody is wrong. Right is right, even if nobody is right."
Jesus doesn't desire division between His children, but He does draw a line in the sand regarding good and evil. That's what I felt the Spirit telling me in prayer. Good and evil exist in this world, and Jesus does not accept a blurred line between them. Where evil exists, there will be division. Peace, true, lasting peace, cannot exist until evil is rejected and removed. Peace can't exist in our hearts where evil remains, and peace can't exist in our world where evil remains.
I believe that the division that we see in our country today is truly rooted in evil. I'm not saying that it's any person or party's fault. The one to blame is the devil and his accomplices. But we, as Christians, need to recognize the presence of evil in our hearts and in our world and work to abolish it. Pray and fast. It is so necessary. It's a commitment that I've been lax on, but I need to be better. Commit to going to confession every single month. Commit to praying daily for at least 15 minutes a day. Commit to some sort of fast every single Friday, even if it's just not listening to the radio (though food fasts are better).
Please, please pursue the spiritual life. Please, please, PLEASE be a saint. I need you to be. The world needs you to be.
-Amanda Benner, Director of Evangelization