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20th OT C ~ "Division" ~ Fr. Jim Schmitmeyer

“I have not come to establish peace, but I have come to establish division.”

Did Jesus really come to establish division?

This doesn’t make any sense!

  • In the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, the Messiah is described as the Prince of Peace.

  • At the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, angels gather in the sky and sing: “Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth to people of good will.”

  • After His resurrection: Jesus greets His disciples with the words: “Peace be with you.”

What gives?

Is Jesus promoting family arguments?

Identity politics?

Is this verse meant to fan flames of bitterness

between Democrats and Republicans?

Conservatives and Liberals?

The religious and the non-religious?

Heck, let’s ratchet it up a notch:

Is Jesus advocating violence? War? Civil unrest?

NO. Absolutely not.

On the night that armed guards stormed the Garden of Gethsemane

and arrested him, he told his followers not to use their weapons, saying:

“Those who live by the sword, die by the sword!”


So, what does the Lord Jesus mean when he says:

“I have come to bring division”?

Well, take a step back and ask yourself,

What causes division?

The answer is Truth.

Truth causes division.

Now, keep in mind that Jesus is talking about Truth with a capital “T.”

He’s not talking about your teenager’s personal opinion about marijuana.

He’s not talking about your wife’s negative opinion about the next door


He’s not talking about your husband’s strong opinion about the 2 nd


He is speaking of a Truth deeper than:

“I am right. You are wrong. So, get outta my face!!”


What is Truth?

What does the Bible have to say about Truth, with a capital “T?”

Let’s take a look at the scene where Jesus stands before Pilate.

You know the story: Jesus is arrested and thrown in jail.

The next morning, he is hauled before the religious authorities

where a guard delivers a hard blow on his face.

Then he’s dragged across town to the civil authorities.

They interrogate him.

The only answer he gives is this:

“I have come to testify to the truth.”

“What is truth?” asks the governor, Pilate.

It is easy to imagine, the smirk on his face

As he leans back, crosses his arms and waits for the answer.

All the while, the answer is literally staring him in the face

in the person of Jesus Christ, the essence of all Truth.

You get the picture?

Christ stands before Pilate,

with his hands bound behind his back,

his face bruised,

his lips busted,

blood dripping off his chin.

THAT is the face of Truth,

the face of a prisoner falsely accused and brutally abused.

The face of self-giving, self-sacrificing Love.

The face of the Hero-Savior laying down his life

to pay the price for every murder ever committed

to pay the price for woman raped

to pay the price of every lie told

every stab in the back

every slap in the face

every child aborted by a mother

every child abandoned by father.

What is truth?

The truth is that God gave the life of His Son

to redeem the human race from sin.

Pilate could not recognize Truth

because he could not admit his sinfulness:

his casual acquiescence to officially sanctioned brutality;

his obvious collusion with political corruption.

How pitiful, his blindness!

No wonder the Lord cried out:

“I have come to light a fire on the earth!

I have come, not for peace, but for division!”

The division that divides

the arrogant…from the humble

the powerful…from the weak

the lost…from the saved.


This leaves us with one clear question:

Can we, ourselves, see the line?

The line that divides?

The dividing line written in the lines…

the lines of blood

that flow down the face of Christ?

Image: "Jesus - crown of thorns" by Leo Reynolds is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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