Father Steven Reilly, LC
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."
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.
help me to ignite awareness of your love all around
1. The 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 come first.
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 back.