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Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time August 18, 2019

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time  August 18, 2019
by Arlenne Villahermosa last modified Aug 15, 2019 08:00 AM

Lk 12:49-53 Jesus said to his disciples: "I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!"

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time 

Lk 12:49-53

Jesus said to his disciples:
"I have come to set the earth on fire,
and how I wish it were already blazing! 
There is a baptism with which I must be baptized,
and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! 
Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? 
No, I tell you, but rather division. 
From now on a household of five will be divided,
three against two and two against three;
a father will be divided against his son
and a son against his father,
a mother against her daughter
and a daughter against her mother,
a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law."

 

 

Sunday Readings

 

 

Reflection

"I came to cast fire on the earth...I came, not to bring peace, but rather division."  Strange words to hear coming from Jesus!

Jesus did not come to cause trouble or to break-up families.  It's clear that when Jesus talks about bringing fire and division, his words are not meant to be taken literally.  These words stand for something very strong in his teaching.  His teachings caused division.  He taught that the Kingdom of God was open to everyone - saints and sinners, Jews and Gentiles.  This brought him into conflict with the religious establishment of his day.  He called the Scribes and Pharisees hypocrites and blind guides.  They called him a troublemaker and a man possessed.

If Jesus had flattered people and said only 'nice' things to them, he could have made himself popular.  But he chose to disturb people, because they needed to be disturbed.  His words shocked some and infuriated others.  The words he spoke to the poor were different from those he spoke to the rich.  The words he spoke to sinners were different from those he spoke to the Pharisees.  We betray the Gospel if we reduce it to a bland message to all, which ignores the differences between rich and poor, between the privileged and the dispossessed.  Such an insipid Gospel would not be a leaven in the world.

There is a tendency to domesticate the Gospel, to reduce it to pretty words and feel-good experiences.  When that happens, the fire has gone out, the leaven has lost its power, the salt has lost its taste, the light has grown dim.

Christians should not be surprised if the Gospel should divide people.  Jesus' sense of justice brought him into conflict with those who exploited the weak and the poor.  His integrity brought him into conflict with the dishonest.  His tolerance brought him into conflict with the narrow-minded and the bigoted.  The brighter the light, the darker the shadows it casts.

The Gospel message is a fire that purifies; it is the leaven of society and the world.  A fire needs not only to be kindled but also tended.  We, the followers of Jesus, are the tenders of the fire.

 

(taken from New Sunday & Holy Day Liturgies, Year C, by Flor McCarthy, SDB)

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