Opening Question: Do you have a friend who will always do what you want to do? How good of a friend are they?
First Reading: Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10
Let's pretend we can see into the hearts of people. Inside, people have three seats for three little characters: the person who does the right thing, the person who wants to have fun, and the person who just goes along with everyone else. The person who does the right thing is always serious. The person who wants to have fun always laughs. The person who wants to get along never wants to fight.
Most of the time, these three people get along, but if one crosses another, there can be a fight. In a fight, the person who does the right thing becomes very stubborn. The person who wants to have fun becomes very angry and selfish; they will do anything to win. The person who wants to get along will do anything to make peace.
The person who has the center seat is in charge. The person who does right helps is our conscience. The person who wants to have fun helps us to play and have a good time. The person who just wants to get along helps us live in peace with others. Many times these three people play musical chairs, taking the center seat at the right time. We get in trouble when the wrong person takes the center seat at the wrong time.
In the story today, Jeremiah was the person who always did the right thing. But what he said upset the people who just wanted a good time, so they became angry ane wanted him dead. The person in the center, the king, just wanted to get along; he did not want a fight. Fortunately, Jeremiah's friends were able to save him when they asked the king.
We control who is in the center seat: the right person, the fun person, or the person who doesn't care. Let us be wise to put the correct person in the chair at the right time.
Bridging Question: What things cause fights in families? Why do they cause fights?
Gospel: Luke 12:49-53
Jesus said to his followers:
I came to throw the fireball of God's judgment on the world. What do I want? I want it burning now! But, I must be dunked in a baptism of suffering. How I wish it were already finished!
Do you really think I came to spread peace in the world? NO! I came to break things up! From now on, a family of five will divide. Three will face off against two. And two will oppose three. Fathers will hate their sons, and sons will despise their fathers! Mothers will yell at their daughters and daughters will spit at their mothers! Mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law will detest the sight of each other!
Darby didn't believe anyone really loved her.
Her father was a officer in the Navy. He was gone a lot throughout the year, sometimes six months at a time. Darby didn't know whether her father would be home from one month to the next.
Darby's mother worked as a teacher in the navy base schools. She worked hard and cared for her class. Much of her mother's nights and weekends were spent with school work.
Because her father got transferred every two to three years, Darby moved just when she found new friends. So, much of the time, Darby was on her own. Bored. Without anyone to play with. Needing some serious attention.
To get that attention, Darby got into some bad habits. She would disobey her mother, won't do her chores, and let her grades slip in school. So, her mother would constantly nag Darby, threaten her, even punish her for no reason. Darby got back at her mother by yelling and screaming. Darby and her mom got in some big fights. They were so loud, it seemed more like a war than an argument.
One day, everything changed. Darby's father returned from his duty with a crumpled envelop and a grim face. Darby overheard as her father announced, "They denied my promotion. I'm sure they will retire me soon." Darby realized the faraway look in her father's eyes was deep hurt. She saw her mother and father hug. But inside Darby didn't feel any sadness or joy. She felt numb. She figured it was another move for the family. No big deal.
Over the next months, there was a sadness that shadowed Darby's home like a dark cloud. Things were slower as the family packed and prepared to leave military life. Her parents didn't seem to focus on Darby so much. She felt so alone, so distant from her parents.
The night before they would leave, Darby saw her mother crying softly in the bathroom. "What's wrong, Mom?" Darby asked, but she knew the answer.
Darby's mother pulled her close and hugged her tight. In that brief moment, Darby's feelings of loneliness melted away. Then, Darby felt the arms of another person surround her and her mother. Darby's father kissed both of them as her mother's cries died away. In the moment of their hug, Darby knew her family really did care about her. And she really loved them.
The next days were difficult, but the family learned that together they could make it. Because they knew the family was more important than being an officer, being a teacher, or being a lonely child. They learned that the most important people in their lives were each other.
Jesus came to change people. And, as Darby's family learned, change can cause real problems. Jesus didn't come to destroy families, but to change them. He taught God was the most important person. We own him our loyalty first. Then he taught the second most important people in our lives were each other.
If we put God first and others second, we will grow together as families. If we make ourselves first, our selfishness will tear our families apart.
Closing Question: How can we put God first and others second in our family?