Nothing is more practical than finding God,

            that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way.

            What you are in love with,

            what seizes your imagination will affect everything.

            It will decide what will get you out of bed in the mornings,

            what you will do with your evenings,

            how you spend your weekends,

            what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart,

            and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.

            Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.

This wonderful piece of writing is by Padre Arrupe, the once Superior General of the Jesuits. It is a loaded piece that says everything about the power of those things or persons we could describe as our treasures whether we are aware of them or not. What we are in love with surely decides everything in our lives especially our relationships. This fact about human life is morally neutral. That is, it does not matter whether what we are in love with is morally good or bad, helpful or harmful, noble or destructive. The fact is that, whatever we are in love with, actually attracts some people to us and repels others. In fact, once you are in love with something or choose a manner of living, your whole being takes a stand on it.

This is the background against which you can understand the enigmatic statement of Jesus: “do you think that I have come to bring peace on earth? No, I have come not to bring peace but fire, for a man’s opposition will be the members of his own family” (Luke 12: 49-53). Do not forget that Jesus, the Emmanuel, the God-is-with-us, is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). Yet, he could make this statement. Jesus is stating a simple principle of life: when you take a stand on something or you choose to live in a certain manner, you will attract some people to yourself and repel others, who may oppose you for good or for bad. When St. Francis of Assisi, the son of a wealthy merchant, gave his life to the Lord and chose to live a life of simplicity and poverty, becoming friends with lepers and the low class people of his town and era, his father, Pietro di Bernardone, was disappointed with his son. He threatened Francis and had him beaten severally. At a point his father had to take him to the Bishop of Assisi to coerce Francis to come back to living the extravagant and sumptuous life that befitted his social status. In the midst of much legal proceedings before the Bishop, Francis renounced his father and his patrimony, laying aside even the garments he had received from his father in front of the public. Francis was in love with God; God was the most driving force in his life, and he was not going to look back. Everything, including his family members, had to submit to this fundamental motivation of his life; otherwise there would be “fire” and not “peace”. You can look at history and judge for yourself who is in the right: Francis or his father?

It often happens that we are so shy or ashamed of standing up for our faith in Jesus Christ and the mission of the Church to bring God’s compassion and love to the world. To be a disciple of Jesus Christ is to take a bold stand against ALL that militates against truth, goodness, love, kindness, fairness, simple lifestyle, and compassion – all that Jesus Christ stands for. And if you do so, even your children or parents or friends may be against you. But often, we become selective and do not want to take a stand or simply, we want to please others. That is actually what nondenominational means; that is, you do not have to be committed to any set of rules! In that way, you will not spark off disagreement or conflict; you play it safe. Is that the way to live a life to the fullest? What or with whom are you in love with in an absolutely final way?