Thursday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time
In the passage from the letter to the Romans, we see St. Paul openly speaking about sin, even to the extent of saying that those people were slaves to sin (Rom 6:20). He does not seem to be afraid of calling a spade a spade and refrains from beating around the bush. Furthermore, he says, ‘as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity…, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness for sanctification’ (Rom 6:19). Sadly, today, our world has lost the sense of sin. Anything and everything can be justified with little or no effort. “It’s ok” is our most common maxim. The more we say ‘it’s ok’ the more we find that things are ‘not ok’ both in ourselves as well as in the society outside.
When we go to a hospital or clinic with an infected wound, the doctor would first clean the wound. Yes, it will be painful. It may even lead to bleeding. But it becomes necessary. Unless, it is first cleaned, any amount of medicine would not be able to heal the wound. The same is true of sin. Unless, we identify it and clean it, our Christian life and our relationship with God, would not improve. Unfortunately, in our times, there is not much difference in the way a Christian lives and the way a non-Christian lives. Sometimes, it could even be said that the latter live better disciplined and virtuous life. The result is that, Christianity is no more attractive to people as it was in the times of the early Christians.
It is in such a context that the words of Jesus in the Gospel take upon special significance. He says that He came to bring fire and division upon earth – not peace. Even the members of one household would be divided amongst themselves. It is because when you follow Jesus, you cannot have double standards. You either follow His standards or you follow the standards of the world. If you uphold the values of Christ, condemn sin and call for upright living, you are sure to upset people and bear the brunt even from members of your own family and community. We must remember that Jesus Himself was not accepted in His hometown. James would put it this way: ‘Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?’
Hence today, we are asked to take a closer look at our standards. Are they in line with the world or are they in line with the Lord? Am I a friend of Jesus or of the world? Who am I loyal to?