So every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I have come to bring peace on 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 those of his own household.” (Mt 10: 32-36)

Christ does not force us to be “His”; that is to say, to “acknowledge” Him for Who He is, – our One-and-Only Lord and ultimate authority. We are free, so we can alternatively hand ourselves over to “others,” or “another,” be it another person or idea or thing, or our own self-will (i.e., someone/something “other” than Christ), and have them/it be our ultimate authority. And it is easy to slip into that, – to having “another” as our ultimate authority, – particularly in the case of “those of our own household,” to whom it is particularly hard to say “no.” That is to say, we easily slip into people-pleasing at the expense of God-pleasing, with those closest to us, in crippling codependencies. But if that’s what you want, Christ says to us, then I will let it be your way. I will not pretend before My Father that you are Mine, but will deny you.

Today let me let God into my closest personal relationships, because “three” is “not” a crowd, on the divine-human, Christ-imitating Way that is our cross-carrying journey. When the Lord says that He has come to “set” us “against” our closest loved ones, He means that He offers Himself, inserts Himself, into our relationships, as a healthy, heavenly distance and boundary on the “earth” between our merely-human, merely-“earthly” interactions and differences, which can be so polarizing, when there is just the human and earthly reality of (the two of) “us,” in the dubious “peace on earth” that we on our own can muster up. Let me not wait for Christ to foster that dubious “peace on earth,” because He did not come to perpetuate that. Let the God-Man be between me and my loved ones today, letting His grace back into my heart, as I re-connect with Him in some heartfelt prayer, and letting it be the “sword” that protects the God-given freedom of all of us, in His dignifying, liberating Presence.