Pope Francis reminds us not to misinterpret the Gospel for personal sentiment against peace, or get waylaid by an attachment to discouragement and hopelessness:
240. Yet when we reflect upon forgiveness, peace and social harmony, we also encounter the jarring saying of Christ: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s foes will be members of his own household” (Mt 10:34-36).
They have a context within the message:
These words need to be understood in the context of the chapter in which they are found, where it is clear that Jesus is speaking of fidelity to our decision to follow him; we are not to be ashamed of that decision, even if it entails hardships of various sorts, and even our loved ones refuse to accept it. Christ’s words do not encourage us to seek conflict, but simply to endure it when it inevitably comes, lest deference to others, for the sake of supposed peace in our families or society, should detract from our own fidelity. Saint John Paul II observed that the Church “does not intend to condemn every possible form of social conflict. The Church is well aware that in the course of history conflicts of interest between different social groups inevitably arise, and that in the face of such conflicts Christians must often take a position, honestly and decisively”.[Centesimus Annus 14]
Often enough, a Christian feels like overturning someone else’s activity and chasing them out of the Temple. What’s the point of these passages? To look at the setting in which they happened. To discern when Jesus was preparing his disciples for conflict, and not to go looking for it or initiating it from a false sense of imitation.
All citations of Fratelli Tutti (which can be found on this link) are © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana.