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Light and darkness

In the Gospel reading for this Sunday (August 14, 2022), Jesus tells his disciples, "Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division." Lk 12:49-53.

My purpose with these weekly writings is to use the Gospel reading to guide our reflection about how we encounter Jesus in serving others. This week's reading didn't make that task easy. Can loving our neighbors actually be so radical an action that it causes division?

The Gospel of John (3:16-20) gives us some insight into how division can arise. Just after hearing "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son", we hear, "the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil; for everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed".

Perhaps division arises because mercy (what happens when love encounters suffering) shines a light on any evil behind that suffering? Perhaps when Jesus calls us to be merciful, and we enter into another's suffering, we go towards his light and can see what is darkness. That may be uncomfortable, especially when we see that darkness in others, our own family, or ourselves.

Prayerfully consider these questions this week:

Can you think of a time when, serving another, you noticed the light of Jesus shining through that encounter? What darkness did that light reveal? Darkness behind their suffering? Darkness in others? Your own darkness? What division arose from that revelation?

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