Fr Thomas’ Homily for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Shattered Families

Mario Joseph is a firebrand Catholic evangelist in Kerala, India.   He has an amazing story of conversion from Islam to Christianity.  He who was an Imam (a Muslim preacher) by the age of 18, became a Catholic preacher.  In his talks he advocates the importance of family relationships.  Yet he has not visited his parents or siblings ever since his conversion.  Not that he did not want, but the hurt and hate  caused by his conversion broke down the family relationships.  The brokenness was so terrible that his father even tried to kill Mario.  In spite of such hate and broken relationship with the blood relations, Mario goes around preaching joyfully the salvation he found in Jesus Christ.  Mario now has found a new family which is based on faith in Jesus Christ, not on blood relations.  Mario’s is one of many stories of conversion, enumerating the horrible impact Christian conversions has had on family relations.  Such a scenario is nothing new.  Mario’s story echoes the experience of the early Christians who too were hated by their blood relations.

Jesus foretold the disciples of the ordeal awaiting them.  He said, “a household of five will be divided: three against two and two against three; the father divided against the son, son against father, mother against daughter, daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law, daughter-in-law against mother-in-law’” (Luke 12:52-53).   The siblings and parents resented some of their own becoming Christians.  Luke, narrating the prophecy of Jesus on the cost of discipleship to come, was reflecting on the experience of Christians around him.   The fact that the early converts were on fire with their profession of faith aggravated the division in their families.  Yet, our Lord appreciated their total commitment and he said, “‘I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were blazing already!” (Luke 12:51)  How do you rate your faith commitment?  Can you say that you have chosen Jesus Christ above all other considerations?