Jesus said to his disciples: “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. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” (Luke 12:49-53)
The first time I ever read the Bible, this Sunday's Gospel reading made no sense to me. I remember clearly writing down on one of my note cards the question, "Why would Jesus say that?" for Prof. Butz to answer for me. Isn't Jesus supposed to be a loving, kind guy? What's all this talk about division? Since when does Jesus tear families apart? Naive little Kim I was. I was at that time under the impression that following your religion, or more specifically, being a disciple of Jesus was supposed to always be fun and filled with good times.
Prof. Butz's answer to my question was a good one... at the time the Gospels were written, Christians were being greatly persecuted, often times by members of their own families. This was a sort of message to the early Christian communities that professing belief in our Lord might cause people, including their family members to be against them... I guess some things don't really change all too much in 2000 years, do they!?! Though we, as Catholics, aren't currently being turned over to the authorities of the Roman Empire, we still have to deal with our fair share of people who don't like what we believe or do, and, as the Gospel says, often times our own family members are counted amongst those against us. Funny how after almost three years of theological transformation I have gone from complete disbelief that Jesus would say something like this to nodding my head in agreement and thinking to myself, "Yeah, you know, that's kind of relevant."
Though my parents haven't disowned me, they were not 100% thrilled when I informed them that I was going to change my major to theology. Back when I was planning on being a Spanish teacher they were happy because they were assured that I'd have a good life, a respectable job, and of course, I'd have money. I'd pretty much be living what the average person today considers a normal, happy, secure and comfortable life. Majoring in Secondary Education and Spanish affords you many more career opportunities than Theology and it really bothers me that people don't seem to realize that the comfortable life isn't always the one that's going to get you into a certain place where you'll be eternally comfortable. It's often times difficult to reason with people who wonder why I'd major in something that "you can't do anything with." Just the other day mom suggested that I should still get a degree in Spanish so I'll be able to find a job. I don't think my family and friends realize that I don't want a 'real job' in the sense they think of a 'real job.' I've tried to explain, but they don't get it. The other day, Dad saw an article in the paper that the East Penn School District needs teachers and suggested that I should be interested in that article. Sorry, Dad. Only way I'm going to need Spanish anymore is if I'm doing missionary work in Latin America or in Hispanic neighborhoods in this country... and I don't need a Spanish degree to do that. I already know enough of it and am able to speak and understand it well enough for that. Almost anytime mom is in the car with me she asks, "Now, Kim, what are you REALLY going to do with a theology degree?" My response is always the same: Don't worry about it, I'll figure it out. Her response: Well, you know, you're going to have to pay off the college loans? Me: Yes, I know. Don't worry about me. My uncle believes that all Catholics are brain-washed and ignorant. The other day I was talking to a friend of mine and informed him that the thought of becoming a nun is quite attractive to me. His response: That would be such a waste of your life.
It hurts me that people think living the religious life is a waste. I don't care what they think of me, but I do care that they have such negative opinions about the preisthood and religious life. Far from being a waste, it's by far the most wonderful way anyone could spend his or her life. As St. Josemaría Escrivá said, "If you don’t have the highest reverence for the priesthood and for the religious state, you certainly don’t love God’s Church." Amen to that. Even if you're not ordained or you haven't taken vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, there's still many good things you can do for the Church and for God. Unfortunately, none of these would probably please my family either.
Though it's hard to have family who aren't always 100% supportive of your goals in life and think money is the only thing that can buy security and happiness, something we can all be thrilled about is that even if our biological family doesn't understand us, we have a beautiful family that we are given through our Mother, Holy Mother Church. In her, we have God as a Father. Even when biological fathers just don't get it, our heavenly Father does. We have priests to be our Fathers too. We have a fantastically beautiful Mother, the Virgin Mary. I highly recommend Archbishop Sheen's "The World's First Love: Mary, Mother of God" to all to remind us of how much she loves us! We gain brothers and sisters in the saints and martyrs and even in our fellow Catholics. I definitely believe that for me, my spiritual family understands me far better than my biological one!!! I pray that I can, with God's help, bring the biological family into the spiritual one too!
Anyway, just because family, friends, and society are divided against us, we should remember something very important that Christ told us:
"I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world." (John 16:33)
Even if we have family and friends who don't think our Catholic faith is worth dedicating our time to and we have society and the media constantly trying to destroy our Church and beliefs, with Christ as our defender, we can be assured that in the end we will be victorious!!!