Gospel Reflections

20th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Luke 12:49-53

Sunday Gospel Reflection by Sister Masako Miyake

Published: August 14, 2016


The Japan Catholic Church is having a ten-day peace campaign from August 6 to 15, 2016. This is a special season for Peace. Many people seek and pray for peace in these days. We, Christians find peace in Jesus who said: “I am leaving you my peace.”  “Blessed are the peacemakers.”  But today we hear differently. Jesus also said “Do you think I came to give peace in the earth? Not that, I tell you, but division!”  These are surprising phrases. 

Most Catholics in Japan were baptized after they grew up. We moved from Buddhism and/or Shintoism. Many of us faced opposition to our decision to be baptized. Our decision brought about a split in the family and/or in the local community. In my own family, each of us decided to be baptized almost at the same time with no trouble in the family. But my father visited a Shinto priest and a Buddhist priest to tell them that we would be Christian, so we could not join the Festival nor offer donations. This meant that we would be separated from our local community. And the local community had an alien feeling toward us. If my family had not become Christian, the community could have jointly enjoyed and shared experiences with all of us together. It is just the same for us about our vocation. When I expressed that I chose Catholic religious life, my relatives gathered together. They did not like my choice. They considered it like a stone dumped in the peaceful water.  

“WA” is one of the most important values in our culture. “WA” is harmony, balance, courtesy, friendship and no quarrels. It is public order and tuning. It is a beautiful, selfless attitude. If you disturb “WA,” you cause trouble in the family or community. It is a kind of sin. Despite its good points. “WA” also sometimes obscures the truth, covers diversity and struggle. For example, many people left their homes after the disaster in Fukushima, and now our government is planning to let them go back home saying “it is safe” and many people want to believe it is safe. So if someone says “it is not safe, so I do not want to go back home,” it is against public peace and disturbs “WA.”

“Do you think I came to give peace in the earth? Not that, I tell you, but division!”  I can say this is a hard fact. Once we decide to follow Jesus, it is always with the cross. The peace he gave us will come true through the pain of division. It is not just about keeping order and not just uneventful. It is a call to carry out truth with love, patience and generosity, without fear of rejection.    

“I am giving you my peace.
I do not give it to you as the world gives peace.

Let not your heart be distressed or fear-stricken.” 
(John 14:27)

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