Homily of the Apostolic Nuncio Chapel of the Apostolic Nunciature Thursday, 25 October 2018

Gospel: Luke 12:49-53

The Gospel today gives us some phrases of Jesus.

Jesus has come to bring fire on earth. The image of fire is frequently mentioned in the Bible and does not have just one meaning. It could be the image of devastation and punishment, but it can also be the image of purification and illumination. It can also express protection. John the Baptist baptized with water, but after him Jesus baptized with fire. Here the image of fire is associated to the action of the Holy Spirit who descends at Pentecost as the image of the tongues of fire.

Jesus has come to bring division. Jesus always speaks of peace. So how can we understand the phrase in today’s Gospel? This affirmation does not mean that Jesus himself is in favor of division. Jesus did not want division. But the announcement of truth that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah becomes a reason for much division among the Jews. In the same family or community, some were in favor and others were radically against.

In this sense, the Good News of Jesus was really a source of division , a “sign of contradiction”. That is what was happening in the families and in the communities Much division and much discussion as a consequence of the Good News among the Jews of that time, with some accepting and others denying. And many times where the Church is renewed, the call of the Good News has been a “sign of contradiction” and division.