Pastor’s Corner for the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time ~ Fr. Nobert Munekani SJ
As we are called to stand for the truth, we also acknowledge and celebrate National Women’s Day. This South African holiday is celebrated every year on the 9th of August. The day brings attention to the issues African women faced then and still face today, including domestic violence, workplace sexual harassment, unequal pay, girls not being allowed to go to school, and no-help parenting. Women have had a long history of oppression, but every fight gets us one step closer to freedom and equality.
In the first reading we read of the attempted murder of the prophet Jeremiah by some of the king’s men. This was because the prophet had spoken the word of God to the people, and they did not like what he said and were afraid that he would influence the king. The Psalm could easily have been the words on the prophet’s lips as he sank into the mud – “Lord, come to my aid!”
In our gospel text this Sunday we have an unusual lesson from Jesus in which he tells us that he did not come to bring peace but division. Division is always a tough thing, but division rooted in faith can be particularly tricky. Our faith is so engrained in our identity and worldview that whenever we encounter someone that challenges our belief, it can feel like a personal attack. Oftentimes, arguments cause us to double down on our original positions and separate ourselves from others to avoid conflict—even from family.
This seems to fly in the face of all that we have ever heard about Christ and yet when we look around the world, we see just how much belief in Christ has divided our world as people try to impose their understanding of the Good News on their neighbours. However, the key to having a transformative conversation is less about convincing arguments, and more about building an authentic and respectful relationship. Nevertheless, this is not the division which Jesus is speaking of, for he is talking about the division between good and evil, between those who opt for life over death., those who opt for truth over lies. Only by following his ways can we walk the path of righteousness which leads to eternal life.
The author of today’s second reading from the letter to the Hebrews urges us to keep our sights fixed firmly on Jesus in order to gain eternal life. He says this because of the number of opposing and competing views that were trying to win the allegiance of the people. In all of this we have the Lord as our advocate and the Holy Spirit as our guide. May God Bless and keep you safe.
Fr. Nobert Munekani SJ