Just as Christ suffered for us, we must be willing to do the same as we share our belief in Him
Reflections on the readings for the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (August 18, 2019): JER 38:4-6,8-10; PS 40:2,3,4,18; HEB 12:1-4; LK 12:49-53
MISSIO offers “Preaching Mission,” as a homily help, providing connections to mission from the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days.
The Gospel passage for today shows one of those difficult occasions when Jesus is not speaking about forgiveness and mercy.
Instead, He is warning people that His coming means division rather than harmony, fire rather than healing balm. “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish I were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is My anguish until it is accomplished!” (Luke 12:49-50) Christ wants all who hear Him to understand that He is bringing them the truth – that is, the way and will of God Himself. Human desires are so often at odds with the God’s plans, it should not come as a surprise that many people are not ready to accept what He has to say.
Our Lord does offer peace and love, but at a great price and not necessarily here and now. His own suffering and death is the sacrifice He offers for our salvation. Christ needs His listeners to grasp that they are being called to turn away from whatever attractions the world has to give, and to open themselves to His divine promise. Eternal life is available to all who follow Him, but the path is difficult and sometimes dangerous. If our Master was crucified to redeem us, how can we imagine that the life of a Christian will be easy or safe? Day by day, we must entrust ourselves to Jesus. We must respond to His love by loving Him first, and then by loving all our brothers and sisters, even those we may dislike. Being an actual disciple of the Son of God entails hard work and daily commitment to sharing our faith in Him. Then the fire of Christ’s precious love will purify our hearts and transform us more and more closely into His holy image.