29th Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday (Year II)
Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division (Luke 12:51).
Strange words from the Son of God. Jesus was accused of many things, but utopianism was not one of them.
Jesus said to his disciples: “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! (Luke 12:49-50)
Earlier in the Gospel, John the Forerunner declared, “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the holy Spirit and fire” (Luke 3:16).
Jesus’ descent into the waters of the river Jordan mirrored his plunge into the world of strife and rebellion.
The all-holy God is judged intolerable by the kings and subjects of the earth. “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Oust the pure one so that earthlings can return to “peace” in the gray landscape of mediocrity and decay.
From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law” (Luke 12:52-53).
The “members of a household” are first of all internal: spirit versus flesh, reason versus passion, head versus heart. When the original justice of internal relations is shattered, the social justice of external relations is shattered: man versus woman, adam (humankind) versus nature, and adam versus God.
The fire of the Spirit burns away the gangrene of sin and begins the restoration of internal justice. But conformity to Christ hardly brings a utopia. Jesus set the pattern on Calvary: the Cross precedes resurrection and restoration.
A social utopia like Eden flowed from the personal utopia of Adam. Until persons are restored and healed from sin, division remains.