20th Sunday of OT Cycle C

The Cost of Discipleship and Acquiring Peace Rather Than Division

Joke: Doctor says to a lady, “Your husband needs rest and peace. Here are some sleeping pills.” The wife asks the doctor, “When must I give them to him?” Doctor replies, “They are for you...”

Is this the kind of Peace that the Lord intended when he created the universe and all within it? In all today’s readings, they are focused on two words spoken by the Lord Jesus: Peace and Division. What does it mean peace and division at the same time?

Peace is an important theme throughout the Gospel of Luke, and perhaps, throughout the whole mission of Jesus here on earth. The moment that Christ was born, angels in heaven singing, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” (Lk 2:14). The day that he resurrected from the dead, his first words to his disciples when he appeared to them, “Peace be with you” (Jn 20:21). However, in today’s Gospel, Saint Luke repeated what the Lord Jesus taught his disciples and his followers saying, “Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” This might lead us to believe that the Lord came to bring division rather than peace; therefore, we just have to suffer or to deal with it when there is division in our family, in our community, or in this world.

From the beginning, when God created this universe and all that it contained including our human beings, he created everything good. His intention and his purpose are to bring everything good into the existence. In his image and likeness, he created us, male and female with a free will to choose to follow what he commanded us. Created in his image and likeness, God didn’t bring division, suffering, and war or anything in that nature upon us right from the beginning of creation, rather he gave us that free will, happiness and peace to joyfully live in the heavenly garden. It was that free will that Adam and Eve disobeyed God to listen to the serpent. We brought division upon ourselves, isolated ourselves away from God, and distanced ourselves from being good that God intended when he created us. Unlike Adam disobeyed God and isolated himself away from God, Jesus Christ, by his obedience to God, restored that brokenness and repaired that division with God by Grace.

There’s an American saying, “There is nothing free in America.” It is truly so with God that there is a cost in order to achieve the true peace, the state of grace, the heaven. This cost might be a division within a family. This is why in the next two chapters of Luke’s Gospel repeats the words of Jesus saying, “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” He does not ask us to hate one another, especially our loved ones, but rather, it requires a cost in following the Lord Jesus and in acquiring His peace by placing him above all things, even our loved ones.

The cost of being discipleship describes in today’s 1st reading, taken from the book of the prophet Jeremiah, that one might have to shed his or her life to testify for the truth when the princes come to report to the King saying, “Jeremiah ought to be put to death; he is demoralizing the soldiers who are left in this city, and all the people, by speaking such things to them; he is not interested in the welfare of our people, but in their ruin.” The cost of being a disciple might require us to shed our own life. King Zedekiah answered the princes saying, “He is in your power; for the king could do nothing with them.”  This is very true with us when we allow sins allure us and attract us with all kind of pleasures and the sweetness that this earthly life can offer. Just as the king is so attractive to the power that he just has to agree with these princes rather than to stand for the truth that Jeremiah calling people back to fidelity, we, in our weaknesses and limitations, sometimes we give in to what is so attractive to us, to make us so comfortable that might block our vision to see and our ability to hear, and it might even numb our heart to turn away from sins and from the allurements of this earthly life. This is very true with us when we get used to the sins, the sins of the flesh, the sins of sacking up without married in the Church, the sins of lying and stealing, of gossiping and hurting others, and many other sins that somehow so attractive to us that we just have to give in when it arise. The question is how is it to help us become Jesus’ disciples and to acquire his peace rather than division?

St. Paul offers us the solution describes in today’s 2nd reading saying, “Let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith.” Fixing our eyes on the Lord Jesus gives us strength in following him, and fixing our eyes on him gives us courage in persevering whatever that is so difficult and so attached to us. Saint Paul also invites us to examine ourselves saying, “In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.” He reminds us that in our own moments of temptation, have we had courage to go against temptation that we might shed blood just as the Lord Jesus himself experienced in the garden of Gethsemane? In the garden of Gethsemane, he experienced the division within himself. The temptations presented to him by the devil, after forty days of fasting, torn him between obedience to the Father’s will or to go against His Father’s will that he had to call on His Father saying, “Why have you forsaken me?” Perhaps, in our own temptations, have we experienced the division that might trouble us to make a decision? In that moment, have we tried to fix our eyes on the Lord Jesus or we allowed the allurements and the pleasures of this earthly life covered our eyes to look upon the Lord Jesus? Sometimes we give into temptation rather than to go against it because of its nature of pleasure and comfort that’s attractive to our human nature, but do we remember to come back to the Lord, to seek for forgiveness, and to try to fix our eyes on the Lord Jesus again? Among the cost of the discipleship, acquiring peace and division, which one do we see ourselves are more attractive to? How can we eliminate division to follow the Lord and to acquire his peace?

 

Weekend Homilies 2019

Homilies by Fr. Joseph Nguyen


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