OCTOBER 21. Ord Time B. Wk 29. Thu. Lk 12. 49-53
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘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!
‘Do you suppose I am here to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. For from now on a household of five will be divided: three against two and two against three; the father divided against the son, son against father, mother against daughter, daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law, daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.’
This reading alludes to the sufferings that Jesus knows are fast approaching, but what he is revealing here is his enthusiasm to “get the job done,” firstly because it is the Will of his Father, and secondly his Passion and Death are the means by which he will redeem mankind.
It is good to reflect for a moment about the properties of fire; - it removes all of the old vegetation and prepares the ground for new growth; - but it is a very severe form of cleansing the earth. In the context of Jesus talking with his disciples it reflects great love for both the Father and mankind; - for God and Neighbour!
In referring to his approaching baptism, Jesus is alluding to the physical pain he knows he will have to endure; - pain he desires to embrace as he is aware he is the only person able to make divine atonement for the sins of mankind. Like fire, baptism is also a mechanism for cleansing; - but this time it is a cleansing of the soul, rather than the earthly environment.
But Jesus makes no attempt to hide his fear at the suffering he will have to endure in order to atone for sin, stating quite clearly; - “And how great is my distress until it is over!”
But then he moves on to the results his Passion and Death will have on earth. While he no doubt would have liked peace and joy to be the result, he goes on to advise the disciples this will not happen; - ‘Do you suppose I am here to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!”
The cause of this division is that some people would believe, while others would refuse; - and Christ knew this. Inherent to the Christian vocation is the need to believe the truths Christ was proclaiming; - and to embrace their requirement for self-denial and sacrifice.
At its core, Christianity demands the rejection of many values embraced by the world, together with the renunciation of one’s own desires. This comes about because Christians called to imitate Christ; - by putting the Will of the Father before their own; - as this is the means by which we bear witness to our love, and imitate our teacher.
What this reading reveals is the central requirement of Love; - as this was what motivated God the Father in sending his only Son to redeem, to teach, and to assist his people; - in the same way Love was Christ’s motivation.
The Father’s motivation is recorded in scripture; - “God so Loved the world he gave his only Son,” while Christ articulated his own motivation; -
“Greater love has no man than this; - that a man lay down his life for his friends!”
Gospel Acclamation Phil3:8-9
I count all things worthless but this:
to gain Jesus Christ and to be found in him.
First reading Romans 6:19-23 ·
Now you are set free from sin, and slaves to God
If I may use human terms to help your natural weakness: as once you put your bodies at the service of vice and immorality, so now you must put them at the service of righteousness for your sanctification.
When you were slaves of sin, you felt no obligation to righteousness, and what did you get from this? Nothing but experiences that now make you blush, since that sort of behaviour ends in death.
Now, however, you have been set free from sin, you have been made slaves of God, and you get a reward leading to your sanctification and ending in eternal life. For the wage paid by sin is death; the present given by God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.