I have never met anyone who truly likes conflict, ex rot those individuals who relish in creating conflict to satisfy their own issues with anger. But Jesus makes it abundantly clear in today’s gospel, and in many other gospel narratives, that we are definitely going to experience conflict and resistance, sometimes from the people closest to us. Jesús goes so far as to say members of our families and the people we call friends will turn against us.
Why is this? Because of what we believe about our faith and the church and how we believe. Those closely around us may not like our stances, our way of praying, our theology, our politics. People love to project their own anger and bitterness onto those around them because they are unable to confront these painful inner dynamics. Unfortunately, they choose to criticize and demean.
These past several months have surfaced so much conflict between people regarding the election, who they voted for, the politics of mask wearing, the scandals in the church, the horrible effects of the pandemic, the pernicious presence of racism.
As soon as you express yourselves, you are going to experience conflict. It’s what happens when you have strong beliefs about values and faith, including morality. Conflict happens because people don’t like change, they want their perception of the world, country, family and parish to have center stage. God forbid anyone disturb their inner world or their vision of how these realities should be expressed.
Jesus simply says to hold your heads up high in the midst of conflict. He makes it clear conflict is a part of life, especially in the area of religious faith. Acceptance of conflict is the first step in addressing the conflict. Acceptance. But it is very difficult.