Q. What did Jesus mean when he said that he didn’t come to unite but to divide?
— John McCormack
A. Here’s a reply from Father Reginald Martin:
When Jesus says he has come for division, as he does in Matthew 10:34 and Luke 12:51, we cannot deny the harsh reality of his threat. However, we should look beyond the examples Jesus provides — the predictable divisions within families — and consider the act of dividing.
The dictionary says to divide means to separate into parts, to distinguish. Division is an unavoidable outcome of choice. To choose Jesus means forswearing every other option, perhaps even our family. But in following Christ, the truly essential division is the separation that must occur within us.
If our hidden selves are going to grow — the parts of us that look like God — we must separate ourselves from a lot of the “stuff” that makes us look like us. To be filled with the utter fullness of God, we must make extra room for him in our lives.
In Dante’s Divine Comedy, one of the blessed souls says, “In his will is our peace.” The instrument of God’s will by which we attain this peace is the Cross. Nothing else so allows us to make the essential divisions by which we can empty our hands to grasp the hand of God.