Following Jesus does not allow us to remain neutral. Jesus’ passionate message here foretells both the suffering he was to undergo through the “baptism” of the cross, as well as the real opposition that would face his followers.

Perhaps the words of this Gospel need not be so unsettling. After all, the force of Jesus’ message is rightfully a cause for concern for those who feel threatened by the Kingdom which he embodies. As theologian Jon Sobrino, SJ, reminds us, “For Jesus, his task is not only affirming the truth about God, but unmasking the lies that suppress the truth about God.”

So, too, is it our task to denounce injustice, stand with the oppressed, and unmask corruption and dehumanization. To remain silent is to settle for a false peace that is unworthy of the sacrifice of Jesus, and the great cloud of witnesses who have trod the path before us.

—Marty Kelly is an Associate Chaplain at College of the Holy Cross and a Regional Coordinator for Contemplative Leaders in Action in Boston.