Politicians frequently claim to be uniters, not dividers. If you wanted proof, therefore, that Jesus was not a politician, look no further than today’s Gospel: “Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.”
Political promises of unity, of course, come cheaply; sometimes they simply mean, “If you disagree with me, I’ll accuse you of being a divider.” In today’s Gospel reading, however, Jesus makes a move never recommended by any political consultant: he preemptively accuses himself of bringing division. Other than the desire to put centuries of future homilists in a very awkward position, why would Jesus do this?
My friend and Jesuit classmate Fr. Michael Rossmann has just published a book, which upon its release held the status of Amazon’s #1 book in “self-help for Catholics”. Actually, I didn’t know there was such a category (and neither did Fr. Rossmann).
Inside the snappy cover, Fr. Rossmann makes a point I think is very important today — really saying yes to something or someone means saying no to other things. Never committing in order to keep one’s options open means refusing to choose the things that matter most.
The book is called The Freedom of Missing Out and continues the long Jesuit tradition of practical help for good decision-making that goes back to St. Ignatius’s rules for discernment. In fact, the influence of Ignatius is not far below the surface, though the book is illustrated with examples from all walks of life and lots of contemporary research. While Rossmann draws on the best of the Catholic tradition, his words about commitment and freedom will ring true to people of any religion.