"Brethren, if you be risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God: mind the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth" (Colossians 3:2,1). These words from St. Paul to the Colossians remind us that there is a division in mankind. There are those who seek the things that are above, and there are those who are content to seek what is below. In fact, today the supernatural realm is often simply denied, or explained away in terms of the natural. There is only the "below," this world.
This very weekend the eyes of the world are turned to Rome as dramatic events within the Church unfold upon the death of John Paul II. We commend his soul to God, knowing that we must all face the Just Judge. The current belief, even among Catholics, is that all men are brothers, that there is no division, and all are on their way to eternal life. One commentator suggested: "He (John Paul II) broke the barriers that separated Catholics from the rest of this world." Indeed, he remarked on one occasion: "As members of the one family of God (i.e., all of humanity) we can tolerate no division or discrimination in our midst." (World Day Of Peace, January 1, 1989).
But the Lord Jesus Christ told us there would be a division between true believers and those without faith. He gives peace to His disciples, but this very gift of peace is the cause of division. The Lord said: "Do not think that I have come to send peace upon the earth; I have come to bring a sword, not peace. For I have come to set a man at variance with his father, and a daughter with her mother, and a daughter-in-law with her mother-in-law; and a man's enemies will be those of his own household" (Matthew 10:34-36).
Where the natural alone is at work and God's grace is denied, authentic faith, love and peace are impossible. Some sincerely seek the truth, and have not yet heard the Gospel message, but St. Paul makes it clear that sin rules in the world: "…through one man sin entered into the world," he says, "and through sin death, and thus death has passed unto all men because all have sinned…" The only escape from this "massa damnata," to use St. Augustine's expression, is to believe in the Gospel. St. Paul testifies to the power of grace in those who believe: "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh" (Romans 8:1).
St. Augustine in his City of God spoke of two loves by which men were divided - the love of God to the contempt of self, and the love of self to the contempt of God. While it is true that human beings are capable of love at the natural level, the natural virtue of love cannot overcome the power of Original Sin. Any "civilization of love" must be based upon the Christian virtue of love, or charity, which is one of the three theological virtues received with sanctifying grace at baptism. There will be no "civilization of love" until the Church gets serious about preaching the Gospel, and the world is ready to acknowledge the Kingship of Jesus Christ and His authority over all nations and peoples.
What we say about the natural virtue of love is true of all the natural virtues. They are not capable of overcoming the effects of Original Sin. A man must begin to live at the level of the supernatural through Sanctifying Grace, practicing the Christian virtues, before he is capable of gaining merit and entering into the kingdom of Heaven. The difference between the ordinary good man and the Christian is that the former is incapable of overcoming the effects of Original Sin and meriting eternal life, whereas the Christian lives at the supernatural level and merits, if he perseveres in grace, the reward of eternal life.
To the conciliar church those of all religions are "believers." But it is precisely faith in Jesus Christ that divides us from the rest of humanity, making us true brothers in the New Covenant sealed in His Blood. It is the very purpose of the New Covenant to form a new humanity, the head of which is Jesus Christ, the New Adam. Outside of this Covenant, among the descendants of the first Adam, true brotherhood, harmony and love are impossible. Without Jesus Christ human beings are essentially strangers. They may love for a time on this earth, but they are frequently at war, and their destiny is eternal alienation - unless they find Jesus Christ and seek baptism.
It is the mission of the Church to preach the Gospel of Salvation to the nations. If the Gospel proves to be a source of division, as Christ forewarned us, the division is necessary, because it separates the wheat from the chaff, those who are being saved from those who refuse to believe. "These (things) are written," says St. John at the end of today's Gospel, "that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name" (John 20:31).
As long as the authority of Christ the King is not acknowledged sin will continue to reign in the world. There will be "wars and rumors of wars" until the Lord comes again. But there is already peace for "men of good will" (Luke 2:14). Our faith is in Jesus Christ, the only hope of the world, the Prince of Peace, Who will utterly destroy the workers of iniquity when He comes. We read in the last verses of the Bible: " 'It is true, I come quickly!' Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!" (Apocalypse 22:20).