October 20th, 2022 – Thursday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time (1)
In today’s Gospel, in the midst of telling His listeners about the need to be prepared for God’s coming, Christ seems to suddenly change topics, announcing: “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.”
The connection between peace and division is much clearer in the Greek, since the Greek word Christ uses for peace, εἰρήνη, eiréné, comes from the verb eiró, to join together, and so the word literally means wholeness, i.e., when all the essential parts of something are joined together. This is why Saint Augustine said that peace is “a tranquility in order”; it’s a sort of calm that comes when things are in the right place, when things are made right, and everything is where it should be. This order, this “setting things in their place,” means to be focused on Christ, who, as Isaiah says, is “the prince of peace,” or, as the prophet Micah declares: “He shall be peace.” On one hand, this certainly refers to peace among people, that is, when they are joined together without division, but it’s also no coincidence that the Greek word Christ uses for division, διαμερίζω, diamerizó, emphasizes the aspect of dividing something that is united (from meros, meaning “a single part”), into bits.
The figures that Christ uses are very powerful: for the Jews, fire “was a symbol, of judgment; and our Lord’s coming into this world did bring judgment (Jn 8:39-41).” Likewise, Christ’s baptism refers to His suffering and death, prefigured by His baptism in the Jordan. In other words, when Christ comes, He brings with Him a message of peace, but one that requires sacrifice and conviction of sin. Although one can be at peace with Christ, and live in peace with Him, oftentimes the message is a source of division.
It seems ironic that here, in Luke’s Gospel, there is so much talk of war and division when the Gospel began with the angels announcing “on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” (2:14). Christ does give peace of soul to those who turn to Him and trust in Him, but often that expression of trust is taken as a declaration of war against their family and friends. Even if there might not be “peace on earth” between family and friends, there is always peace for those who trust in Him, and that peace is profound and far outweighs any conflicts we might have in this life. As Christ Himself says: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” We can ask ourselves: do we let ourselves be troubled by the difficulties that arise in this world? Or do we turn to Christ with hearts full of confidence, focusing on Him alone so that we might not be divided within?
Today, through the intercession of Our Lady Queen of Peace, and Saint Paul of the Cross, let us ask for the grace to focus our lives and our hearts on Jesus, knowing that, for those who trust in Him, He is the source of peace.
 Exposition Bible Commentary.