St. Matthew’s is different from many of the Richmond Diocese parishes. The Tabernacle is front and center. There are kneelers (and people kneel during the Eucharistic prayer). There are statues of saints. The Eucharistic vessels are made of a noble metal, (not pottery and glass). The wine is poured into the vessels before the Eucharistic prayer instead of consecrating a large flagon and pouring the Precious Blood into chalices after consecration. In other words, this parish takes the GIRM (General Instructions of the Roman Missal) as the standard and doesn’t try to do its own thing. It is a sad assessment of the state of liturgies in this diocese when finding a Novus Ordo Mass done pretty much the way it is supposed to be done is an event worthy of commentary.
However, the adherence to the liturgical rubrics is not what struck me this weekend. The priest’s homily focused on the Gospel reading (Luke 12: 49-53).
Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division; for henceforth in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against her mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.
This seems like such an odd thing for Jesus to say. After all, Jesus frequently greeted his apostles with the words, “Peace be with you.” We call Jesus the Prince of Peace. As he preached the Beatitudes he said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Yet Jesus’ words in Sunday’s Gospel are not a contradiction. As the priest so succinctly explained, Jesus did not come to bring peace if peace requires a compromise with evil. Peace comes only when we follow Jesus without exception. These are important words when our culture is steeped in moral relativism. Tolerance is more important than Truth. Getting along is better than getting it right. As the Anglican Communion tries to find its way amid its recent turmoils, one of its Archbishops proclaimed “division is a greater sin even than heresy.” (Of course, one must assume he does not apply this principle to division from Rome)
Jesus specifically instructed us to follow Him, even if it means conflict--even if it sets father against son and mother against daughter. To be faithful to Jesus and faithful to the Gospel means we must be prepared for conflict. An unwillingness to stand firm in our convictions because it will bring about disagreements reveals a lack of faith in Jesus. Jesus gives us the strength to prevail. He gave us His Church and He gives us Himself in the Eucharist to keep us strong for the battle. We must trust Him.