Todays gospel has Jesus telling us he has come NOT to bring peace but division... within the family!!! Very painful and perplexing words, coming from the same Jesus who told the apostles after the Resurrection that peace would be his parting gift. What give? Life...
When trying to actually live the gospel of Christ, you will experience resistance from people who just don't like the way you are living or the message you speak. We live in a world in which people want to lash out, harshly label, publicly embarrass those who don't fit their image of a disciple of Jesus. The endless battle between the Left and the Right rages on, with each side claiming to be the one Jesus would identify with. Jesus is not on any side but ALL sides, in that He loves everyone and He cannot be contained by ideology that boxes in and strictly labels.
Christ says the He has come to bring fire, the fire of the Spirit, that burns away self righteousness and attitues of smug superiority. The Spirit slowly transforms us into the lowly tax collector who went into the temple to pray, a Pharisee was right there with him. The sinful tax collector stayed in the back, bowing his head, praying that God forgive him. The Pharisee is right up in the fron telling God how gratful he isn't like that sinful tax collector praying behind him.
Jesus uplifts humility and mercy in the sinful tax collector. Whether you see yourself as the enlightened liberal who brings justice to the world or the faithful conservative who defends the true faith, defending traditional values, the one identity which unites these two opposing camps is that they are both sinners.
We are ALL divided within our hearts and only Christ's peace can heal that division. Self righteous attitudes only divide.