Father Steven Reilly, LC
podcast version here.
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."
Prayer: Father, I place myself in your presence. I
firmly believe in you and love you with all my
heart. I entrust myself completely to your merciful but
demanding ways, knowing that you only seek to lead
me home to heaven.
Petition: Lord, help me to
ignite awareness of your love all around me.
Spark That Must Become a Blaze: Jesus’ intensity and
passion break out in radical expression in today’s Gospel. He
yearns for a divine conflagration in the hearts of
his disciples. Jesus endured a true baptism of immersion,
steeped in the pain of Golgotha, precisely so that
our own baptism would not be a mere ceremony. Rather
he wanted our baptism to be a holy spark
of divine life that, with care and formation, would become
a growing flame of authentic Christian holiness. Indeed, let
us fan that flame and never allow external pressures,
or our own mediocrity, to extinguish it.
2. Peace, at Any
Price? Jesus corrects a misperception in some of his
listeners. Some no doubt expected him to usher in
the messianic peace, when the lion would lie down with
the lamb (see Isaiah 11:6-9). No, the time for
that peace will be at history’s end, when God’s
Kingdom is established in all its fullness. Till then, Christianity
will often find itself in conflict with the powers
of the world. We want to be considered nice
people, yet our convictions will at times bring us conflict.
May the spark of our soul be a strong-enough
flame to accept those moments and avoid the cheap
peace of acquiescing with the world.
3. Put Up Your Dukes?
Should Catholics be people spoiling for a fight? Not
if they want to be good Catholics! Those who
love fighting and arguing may very well find themselves in
divided households, but not for the reasons Jesus really
means. Courtesy, gentleness, and the finer details of charity
should characterize the person who wants to be like Christ.
These kinds of people seek to unite, not divide.
When they are dividers, it is because they have
to be. They know when the point arrives that if
they bend any further, they’ll break — where flexibility
would degenerate into infidelity. There are tough, sad moments
when being faithful to Christ means a head-on collision
in a very important relationship, such as the ones Jesus
mentions. But when it’s a question of where our
first loyalty lies, there is no debate. Christ must
Conversation with Christ: Lord, you are
the center of my life. I thank you for
my family and pray that I will never be a
stumbling block for their faith. Give me the wisdom
to know when to speak and when to remain
silent. Help me, so that I will never compromise the
Gospel, nor needlessly alienate those whom you have sent
me to serve.
Resolution: I will strive to
set a good spiritual example for my family and
will invite someone who has strayed to consider coming