Monday, 1/22/2018 – A house too often divided

My wife and I have become hooked on a Netflix mini-series called The Crown, which dramatically tells the story of Queen Elizabeth II and her reign from the 1940s to present day England.

It’s been fascinating so far. We’ve made it through the first season and are just getting into the second. We are enjoying the powerful acting performances, good writing and the dramatic images of a time that seems not too long ago in our memories.

We are also intrigued by the lengths that the royal family and its web of advisors have gone to keep the family dynasty together. It has never been easy. History is filled with stories of royal brother turning against brother, sister against sister, parents against children.

Intense family rivalries indeed. But that’s nothing new. Nor is it unique to the English royalty.

Scripture is chock full of such rivalries – Cain and Abel, Ishmael and Isaac, Jacob and Esau, just to name a few.

We also see it today when family businesses crumble, empires dissolve and high-profile legal battles become public in the courts. We see heirs to mighty fortunes bring armies of lawyers to defend their claims against the last dying wishes of a patriarch.

It can make for quite the scandal.

There is something about these rivalries that we love to watch. It’s troubling to see so many cheer whenever a sibling rivalry threatens to tear down what was once a proud family. (Just to clarify, this is not why we are enjoying the Crown. We don’t cheer on the destruction of the family – any family, for that matter.)

In today’s gospel, Jesus uses the story of an exorcism – and the subsequent charge against him that perhaps he was able to expel a demon because He himself is a demon – to teach about the dangers of a house divided. He did this because those suggesting his powers came from Satan instead of God were part of Jesus’s own people. His family. The very ones who should have been first to support Him.

Jesus tells the crowd:

“If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.”

In our first reading, we read the story of King David, who would bring together a divided people; creating a united Israel and sparking a kingdom that would never be forgotten. This is something we should always hope for and strive for in our Church.

Day of Prayer …

With that in mind, it is notable to recognize that on today’s Liturgical Calendar, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has deemed this, officially, a Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children. That means in today’s liturgies, all Catholics – indeed, all Christians – are asked to pray for a renewed and legal respect for life that has gradually been weakening since 1973.

Talk about a house divided.

As I reflected on how I would respond today to this call of the bishops, while also meditating on today’s readings, I looked for ways to write about the pro-life theology and teachings of the Roman Catholic Church … and how they have been summarily rejected by so many.

I was striving to write a reflection without getting into the messy politics of our day. It would seem to be so simple. What could be more innocent than to express your love for all of God’s children – born and unborn, rich and poor, sick and dying; no matter their color, culture, gender or religion.

But in today’s divided culture, an expression like that can get you painted into an extreme corner. Many would have you believe that if one is pro-life, then they must also be against women, condone sexual abuse, male dominance and the general repression of all women under any circumstance.

This, of course, is contradicted by the number of women (especially young women) who turned out in huge numbers last week during the pro-life March for Life in Washington.

It is heartening to see such support among the young.

Still, we must face the fact that we are divided now more than ever over this issue of life and who gets to decide – when, where, how and if – that life is permitted to continue.

We are divided in our homes, our neighborhoods, our political parties, our churches, our nations … all across the globe.

It seems like there is no answer and no end.

So, what are we left to do?

Like all seemingly insurmountable obstacles, we need to recapture that “faith of a mustard seed” and continue to pray that mountains can be moved and hearts can be changed.

Because as much as we would like to see the 1973 law reversed, we must keep in mind that there are many things that are still illegal – murder, theft, robbery, drugs, drinking and driving – many things that we have come to agree should NOT be tolerated by society.

And yet, they continue to happen.

So yes, pray for the legal protection of the unborn. But don’t forget to pray for those who are caught up in the moment of what is seemingly a huge obstacle in their lives …

Pray for her. Pray for him. Pray for a strong supporting cast, whether that be family or friends. Pray that God can soften their hearts, give them hope and permit them to see beyond the mountains that they fear.

And pray for the day that this issue no longer divides us in hatred and anger; but unites us in love and compassion.

For all living souls – from conception to natural death, and all its wonderful stages in between.

About the Author

Dan McFeely is a Carmel, Indiana, writer, communications business owner, book editor and a former professional journalist. Dan also works as an Adult Faith Formation Minister, currently serving as a spiritual director for the men's and women's Christ Renews His Parish program at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Carmel. He is a graduate of the Ecclesial Lay Ministry program offered by the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana and has studied theology at Marian University.

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  1. Thanks Dan for this wonderful reflection. May our Lord God help us and our children to see beyond the mountains that we fear by giving us hope to overcome and move on with life

    May God bless you and your family

  2. Dan…for Christmas my granddaughters gave me a cup with the inscription “don’t worry about anything, instead, pray about about everything”. Philippians 4:6…i believe the 1973 legal decision justifying abortion was founded on satan’s Support and initiated a period of darkness for the us…we must keep praying for everything so that god’s cycle of light will reappear…

  3. Yes i am praying for protection of life of unborn children…
    But i am mostly praying for christian families to impart right examples to children in their cares..
    When you allow a 16yr old to live with his or her boy/girlfriend ..why won’t their be pregnancies..
    Let’s encourage our kids to zip up..resulting in less unwanted pregnancies &many abortion clinics will fold up..
    Good Family cultures should be awakened rather than walking &protesting..

  4. Beautiful message, Dan. Only Jesus can bring unity and love into seemingly hopeless and broken situations. I pray for those families, mothers and unborn children.

  5. Thank you!! I feel like it is such a common misconception that making abortion illegal will solve the problem, but it is so much more than that. I’m a sophomore in high school and I went to the march for life with a school club. It was very moving to see how personal interactions change minds and hearts.

  6. yes indeed Dan. if only Catholics rally together AS ONE, we’d be the FORCE TO RECKON with, and not some so-so believers wanting what everyone else wants – MATERIAL THINGS. thanks for your light!

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