Today’s gospel reading is one of those that gives heartburn to us “soft and squishy” Christians. Our Lord reminds us that being one of His followers isn’t always going to win us good neighbor awards. And we have some choices to make; sometimes difficult choices. Toward the tail end of Chapter 12 of Luke’s gospel, He tells us, “Do you think that I have come to establish peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided three against two and two against three.” So much for love your neighbor as yourself.
We could argue that Jesus was talking to the early Christians, and that they were going to face some serious tribulations along the way of establishing the Church. We could say his message was intended as a warning to them of the difficult days ahead. That’s probably true. However, like all of His inspired word, Jesus was speaking to every generation of Christians, including us.
Let’s face it; we know it’s true. Being a faithful and attentive Christian is still a challenge. Perhaps you and I won’t face lions, beheadings or gladiators, but in some ways what we face is every bit as dangerous to our eternal life. We are threatened, not in body, but in soul, every time we are tempted to sleep in on Sunday, talk ourselves out of going to confession, or rationalize away our point of view about “that” particular commandment.
And then there’s good old peer pressure. Sometimes we find ourselves hiding the fact that we’re Christians, trying to be “sensitive,” to the people around us. While I’m all for tact, keep in mind who you are “hiding.” The next time you are at a restaurant and find yourself too embarrassed to say grace, ponder this line from Luke, “Everyone who acknowledges Me before others the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God. But whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God.” Think about it.