My Lord: Strengthen my heart and my faith when, after receiving You in my life, I receive the rejection of the people I love most. Give me courage to surrender to You fearlessly and wisdom to understand that You are the true source of the love that unites people. Amen.
God is a God of reconciliation. He provides it as a sacrament so that we can receive directly from Jesus the healing that reunites us to his Divinity and to his Body, which on earth is now the Church.
In Confession, we acknowledge that we have divided ourselves from God and from others. In Confession, the priest sits in for Christ and for the whole Church and accepts our repentance. Through this communal confession and absolution of our sins, we are then reconciled with everyone. We might still have to apologize to specific individuals, but in this sacrament, Christ wipes away the division that was caused by our sins.
Isn't it odd, then, that in our Gospel reading today Jesus says he came not to bring peace between people, but division -- especially within families.
Think about it: If we have a parent who disagrees with our Christian decisions and behaviors, do we really honor them if we give up the virtue that divides us? When spouses interfere with our spiritual growth, do we really honor the love that unites us if we allow them to control our faith? When relatives want us to approve of abortions or homosexual activities or couples living together outside the holy graces of sacramental marriage, do we really honor the truths that we share in common with them if we look like we also agree with the falsehoods they believe?
In situations like these, maintaining unity in the family has a high cost: It reinforces immoral behavior and gives the impression that behaving unlike Christ is good and that disobeying God's commandments is not destructive.
Standing firm on what divides us shows that we care more about what Jesus taught than what the relatives say or think about us. The cost of this division is the cross, because those who should be loving us will surely reject us. They will nail us to the cross with our Lord. But remember what comes after Good Friday!
Maintaining unity can be spiritually deadly. Division can produce new life.
How willing are we to be persecuted by our families and by friends who are like family to us? It hurts more when we're nailed by the people who should love us more. Is it good to protect ourselves by compromising our values for the sake of an easier life? Or should we argue and insist that they believe what we tell them about the truth? Neither option is Christ-like.
Jesus spoke in parables for those who weren't ready for the whole truth. Our lives are his modern parables. We must live in such a way that it's clear where we stand on the issues that divide us. At the same time, we must also make known that we do not condemn anyone for disagreeing with us, for we cannot judge their hearts and we will always love them, oh so deeply.