Commentary on the Gospel of
As I first read the first line from the Gospel today, I could not help but feel some resistance. “Jesus said, ‘Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth.’” I have to admit that on some level, I really do want Jesus to bring peace to the earth! I do wish that my expression of faith and commitment to discipleship to smoothly bring peace to the divided, messy and tumultuous parts of my life. But, we are clearly being warned, instructed and invited into another understanding of discipleship. This understanding of discipleship doesn’t value convenience, ease, a lack of wrinkles or “smooth-sailing” pathway.
Our country is so divided, our Church in the United States, and throughout the world, is so divided, too. And, I imagine that there is division, strife and animosity in the various groups and families that each of us are a part of. It seems sometimes, that we get caught in valuing other external loyalties. In the Gospel reading here, Jesus instructs us there to be shaken out of our little bubbles, and remember that being a disciple can be difficult and countercultural.
I was recently reflecting on a colleague in anticipating of writing a nomination letter for her to receive a mission-related award. The person for whom I wrote the supporting letter exemplifies how to live in this tension well. She lives the various aspects of her life…her actions, words, values – in personal and professional spheres – in a way that consistently shows her orientation towards Christ and living a life of discipleship. She doesn’t create division or ignore the tension that can surface with conflicting loyalties. But, she’s able to navigate it well by gently and intentionally confirming her commitment, and our shared commitment, to Christian discipleship.
My colleague will often choose the choice that is more simple, more loving and more generous (it is evident she is a discerner of the magis). She will often think out loud about the best way to care for those on the margins as we move forward with our work. While she no doubt has strong, loving relationships, she knows she also had to make some hard choices in life to follow Jesus and live in a way that is consist with his values.
My reflection left me with some questions for further prayer; perhaps some of them might be helpful for you…
Let us continue to pray for each other, as we continue to discern, each day, our path as disciples of Christ. May we seek to listen to Christ as he guides us, even along a path that can be countercultural, tense or disruptive to an easier or more comforting lifestyle.