XX SUNDAY OF THE YEAR
jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10; hebrews 12:1-4; luke 12:49-53
«the robe» (the 1942 lloyd c. douglas’ novel, which henry koster directed as the epic film) explores the experiences of the roman tribune marcellus gallio.
marcellus won jesus' robe after the crucifixion. he set forth to find the truth about the robe… a quest that took him to the roots and heart of christianity. he and his slave demetrius became christians, and missionaries with st peter! eventually, marcellus’ father disowned him as an enemy of rome, and demetrius’ physician denounced them to the authorities.
«the robe» captures the division that jesus brings about within families… a division that he predicted and experienced! this division is not about religion; it arises because of a conflict of values.
to understand the meaning of division, we look at the peace that jesus says he gives («not as the world gives»): it is not a compromising, anything-for-a-quiet-life peace; it is a peace that comes from living according to GOD’s will and kingdom values. recall jesus’ experience: each time he does his father’s will, it divides him from those who won’t take the step with him, and it moves him deeper into a peace that comes from being true to oneself. when we can understand the meaning of the «peace» that jesus talks about, the «promise» of «division» no longer seems strange! division is almost the price of peace.
further, we forget how unconventional and counter-cultural jesus was! a samaritan was the hero of his story; the return of the prodigal son is celebrated; he asked the disciples to share their cloaks and tunics… literally all they wore, and to love their enemies! his open-hearted approach divided him from those with closed and hard hearts.
in the first reading, jeremiah experiences his own people’s rejection and condemnation. for fearlessly speaking the word of GOD, he is left in a muddy cistern—without food and water—to die. the one who rescues him is a cushite, a foreigner!
living by kingdom values—love, justice, peace—will bring us into conflict those who do not accept such values… even when they are family.
will i live by the values - lifestyle - choices of the kingdom (and my convictions)… even at the risk of division in my family? will i do GOD’s will and become the person he wants me to become… even if it means going against my own?