“Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword.”
Beautiful! I love it! Bring it on Lord! How I despise those who wish to take Christ’s words and turn them into mush! I do not care to be in the presence of those who wish to ignore certain sayings of the Lord, or over indulge and emphasize one over another, or misinterpret a saying to suit their own needs and interests.
However you slice it, the Lord was divisive! He invited men to follow Him, and no one else. He rewrote the Commandments, and when he rewrote them, he divided men. The Lord called sinners to convert, and when he did so, he divided good from evil and right from wrong. Morals are like art, somewhere you have to draw the line (G.K. Chesterton), and the Lord drew the line on many occasions.
Let’s get one thing straight: Jesus was not tolerant! And we, as Christians, have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. He was not tolerant of adultery, nor was he tolerant of murder or rape, or sodomy or indecency. He was not tolerant of sin, or of those who perpetuate it and encourage it. He was not tolerant of the Pharisees or Scribes. He was absolutely not tolerant of those who would use his name in order to push their selfish desires.
Today, I received a complement that really touched my heart. I needed to hear this today, more than ever. This person wanted to thank me for the homily I gave this past Saturday. I won’t go into specifics but I can say that not everyone was pleased with my sermon. Why? They would say that it had the potential of driving some people away from the Church.
Before I celebrate Mass and give a homily, I take time in front of the blessed Sacrament to pray, reflect and meditate on what I am about to do and say. I do not take it lightly. It is wonderful to receive positive and encouraging messages after Mass, but I also know that if I want to preach the truth, the way and the life, then I will also be receiving not so positive or encouraging comments after Mass. I believe that every Sermon I give has the potential of driving people away from the Church. I believe the same was true for Christ.
How many would-be-apostles were driven away when Christ said, “If you want to follow me, sell what you have, let the dead bury their dead, pick up your cross and follow me.” How many would-be-Christians were thrown aback when Christ told them, “It is not right to take the children’s food and throw it to dogs.” It may have gone better for the Lord if he had not begun his sermon on the mount by calling the Pharisees and Scribes “Hypocrites!” or “Whitewashed tombs!” The Church could be celebrating more marriages if it were not for the fact that Jesus said, “Whoever remarries commits adultery.”
When the Lord spoke, it was never boring, for he had much to say and he said it honestly, openly and at times, brutally. The Lord was everything but tolerant.
Have we lost all sense of the purpose of liturgy, worship and the homily? Is it still to seek the truth and eternal life? Do I worship for my glory or for God’s glory? Liturgy is not about God entering into our worship but us entering into God’s eternal worship! Is the purpose of the homily to lift the heart to God with truth and love or to make as many people as comfortable as possible? Very few people (I personally believe NO ONE) will ever tell a priest that his homily was boring, even though it was. But they will come up to a priest and tell him that his homily was hurtful because it was honest. What strikes them hard on the cheek is not a priest telling the congregation a heresy or a falsehood, but telling them a painful truth.
And this is the irony of it all. The sword is full of double meaning as it is double-edged. It is used to cut and to separate, and in Scripture it is synonymous with The Word of God, that separates and divides. The word priest has a similar meaning - "one who separates."