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The Word, The Truth

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Homily for Tuesday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time, 01 Mar 2022, Mark 10:28-31

Peter’s question to Jesus in today’s Gospel is a continuation of the reactions of the disciples to what Jesus said in the Gospel yesterday. Remember yesterday’s reading where Jesus said that those who are too attached to material wealth cannot enter the kingdom of God?

I suspect that the disciples were worried that this teaching of Jesus could divide them. It could also get them alienated from those who might feel offended. It could have consequences on their financial sustainability. I imagine some of them saying to Jesus, “Jesus naman, can we be a little bit more prudent and tactful? Or at least, less divisive and less alienating?”

There were several other instances in the Gospels when Jesus said something that divided his listeners, including his own disciples. I am thinking, for example, of the Bread of Life Discourse in John chapter 6. After hearing Jesus talking about “giving of his own flesh as food and his blood as drink,” some of his own disciples began to fall out and leave him. They reacted vehemently and said, “This is too much!” (See Jn 6:60 & 6:66)

There is of course a background to this. Around the time that John was writing his Gospel, many of the early Christians had already been disowned by their families and friends for deciding to follow Jesus.

In Luke 12:49 Jesus says it bluntly: “Do you think I have come to establish peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” Then he begins to talk about families and households being divided. Does it sound familiar? I think you can replace the word PEACE there with UNITY and the sense of the statement remains the same.

Unity has never been an absolute value for Jesus. He knew his Scriptures well. He knew from the story of Genesis chapter 11 that God himself looked down from heaven and was very displeased when he saw the human beings building the Tower of Babel. God was grieved when he saw them getting united around an evil purpose, namely, to erect a tower of pride and arrogance. So what did God do about it? He divided them by confusing their language. (This division would not be reversed until Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit comes down on them to lead them to genuine unity. See Acts 2.)

This idea of false unity reminds me of what a young rapist said to a newsreporter when he was interviewed after his conviction why he had done such a wicked thing, why he had joined a group of other young men that raped and murdered a young girl. His answer was, “Nakikisama lang po.” There goes your false unity, the kind of unity that needs to be divided!

Jesus worked for unity but made sure it was unity around the truth. Even if he prayed for unity among his disciples, he never promoted a false kind of unity. If there can be no peace without justice, there can also be no true unity without a meeting of minds and hearts around the common good. In working for true unity, people can be alienated, marginalized, or even condemned to death like Jesus was. But listen to what Jesus gave as assurance to his disciples, “The last will be first and the first will be last.”

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Veritas Editorial

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

President of Radio Veritas

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