Does Christ promote violence?

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

THAT’S a question that immediately comes to mind when we read in the gospel the following words of Christ: “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!…Do you think 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…” (Lk 12,49.51-52)

Obviously, we wonder why Christ said these words when he is supposed to bring peace and unity here on earth. There must be something that we are missing to reconcile these two apparently contrasting attitudes of Christ. That is why we need to be most careful in handling the word of Christ. Otherwise, we will find ourselves at a loss.

What we can gather to see the consistency of his teachings is that given our sinfulness, there is no way but to employ in our life a certain forcefulness, a certain energy, drive and zeal, a certain focus and singlemindedness that would involve discarding certain things in life.

It’s a forcefulness that is not a destructive violence and that cannot cause unwanted division. It’s rather a forcefulness that builds, keeps and enhances purity of intention and real love in the end.

Yes, if we are really intent in pursuing the ultimate goal of our life, that is, to love God and everybody else, we need to be energized, driven and zealous. That is the ideal condition for us. Even if we are endowed only with the most phlegmatic and melancholic temperaments, something must be burning inside our heart that cannot help but burst into a flame, a flame of love, of self-giving, of serving without expecting any return.

If we are truly in love, with the love of God who is the source, pattern and end of love, we cannot help but, like Christ, be always energized, driven and zealous, no matter what the cost. Of course, this condition, this requirement is quite tough to meet, but if we would just try, and try again as often as necessary, certainly the ideal effect would just come about.

What can always help is that we avoid getting imprisoned in our own world and allow ourselves to simply be at the mercy of the state of our physical, emotional and mental condition. With our spiritual faculties of intelligence and will, plus of course God’s grace that will always be made abundantly available, we can transcend beyond these constraining conditionings.

So, we just have to use everything within our power to attain that ideal state of being always on the go, dynamic, eager to serve and to do things for everyone. We may have our limitations, and we can commit mistakes, yet we cannot deny that everything is already given for us to be how we should be in our earthly life. And that is to be like Christ, whose only desire is to love all of us.

We have to spend time praying and looking closely at the example of Christ, begging him for the grace of having the same intense interest and love for everyone, including those who may be considered our enemies. Thus, we cannot overemphasize the need for prayer and the other means that bring us closer to Christ: recourse to the sacraments, spirit of sacrifice, development of virtues, etc.

Let’s not be scared of the challenges to face, the difficulties to bear, the trials to go through. Rather let us consider them as golden opportunities to be like Christ and to show and prove the authenticity of our love.