Gospel Reflection for 20th Sunday Ordinary Time Year C -August 14th 2016
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 that I am here to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather 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.
Luke 12: 49-53
The gospel today presents Jesus as a troublemaker. The fire of his message and love will divide people. Even in families, as the early community well knew. Maybe it was like the civil war in any country puts brothers against brothers, and family members against each other.
RELIGION CAN DIVIDE
Religion, even the following of Jesus, has divided people. In our own Ireland, wars raged for many years. No doubt there was a mixture of politics, greed and religion involved, but our religious sense was not strong enough to make peace for many years.
There is opposition to the values of Jesus in situations like abortion, euthanasia, sexuality, family, migration and asylum, and others. People have put themselves in danger in many countries for these, and for the right to religious freedom. There have been more martyrs for Christian faith in the last 100 years than in the history of the church. Jesus causes trouble, not because he wants to, but because his message threatens their safety and security.
WEALTH, HONOUR AND PRIDE
Jesus causes division too within us. There are the desires in us for all the good ideas and values of Jesus, and desires that go the opposite. St Ignatius highlights that wealth, honour and pride and deflect us off the path of Jesus. Don’t we know this well?
Jesus knew the joy of following through on what is right and loving, even to death. This is the call and the joy of the follower of Jesus. Knowing that we are forgiven for all by an understanding God we can push forward to following as best we can the Lord of life, Jesus Christ.
Give me the strength of your good Spirit O Lord, to live according to your gospel.
Fr Donal Neary SJ is editor of the Sacred Heart Messenger