My Dear Sisters and Brothers! The Newman’s story reflects the words of Christ from the Gospel: “Do you suppose that I am here to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you but rather division. From now on a household will be divided.” Cardinal Newman had first-hand experience of those words. However he hasn’t been the only one to go through that painful process. Some of us may think that for following Jesus we should be given a smooth and trouble-free life. Get it out of your head. It is not the way Jesus is pointing out to us. On the contrary he says: “I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were blazing already! There is a baptism I must still receive, and how great is my distress till it is over!” What is the baptism Jesus speaks in the Gospel? Why does he need to be baptised again after being already baptised by John? This time the baptism will not be getting immersed in the water, by the way baptism from the Greek baptisma means an immersion, but it will be an immersion in his death inflicted by the evil people, and emerging from that immersion will be his glorious Resurrection. When Jesus got out of water in the Jordan River after John baptised him he was all wet. After he was raised from death he was full of fire of the Holy Spirit which is unstoppable. Cardinal Newman didn’t join the Catholic Church to get away from his Anglican Family. On the contrary he loved them dearly and because he loved them dearly he wanted to give them his example and his commitment to Christ whom he fully found in the Church we call our home. He didn’t want to compromise between his Catholic faith and cozy regular dinners or family functions. He always hoped that his siblings would come to love what he came to love. In one of his letters he wrote: “No one can be a Catholic without a simple faith, that what the Church declares in God’s name, is God’s word, and therefore true.” These words come from the man who paid a high price for being a Catholic. It cost him his family and the network of friends he had as an Anglican scholar and an Anglican clergyman. But he didn’t compromise.
Interestingly one of his nieces moved to Australia and after some years here went on holidays to England. She sent a letter to her Catholic uncle if she could meet him. Cardinal Neman was 90 at that time. When she approached him it is said that the old Cardinal took her hand and hold it for the whole meeting. It was a priceless moment for him to have a family member come to see him. It was also the last appointment he had as he died soon. We can only imagine how much that long separation inflicted upon him by his family hurt him, as the most of his long life he was an embarrassing outsider for his family. But during those long years he was quietly but consistently pointing out to the truth and love he found in the Catholic Church.
My Dear Friends! As we reflect Jesus’ words on fire and division let us pray through the intercession of that old Cardinal, who was beatified by Pope Benedict in 2010, so that we may remain strong in faith for the sake of those we love dearly and those who are most confused with their life. With God’s grace we can become for them a sign pointing out to Jesus and his Church.