The coming of the Kingdom of God will bring a time of judgement when Jesus comes with glory with the legions of angels from Heaven, and while Jesus’ words in today’s gospel seem harsh and not the Jesus we want to speak this way, His words are spoken and are true whether we like His tone or not. Remember, God is God and we are not. Jesus is strongly urging us to seriously consider our choices and their consequences here and in the after-life. Being Christians requires total loyalty to Jesus, and this loyalty must be honored, even over our family and friend relationships here on this earth. Jesus challenges us to take a closer look at where our love and loyalty really lie because His true followers and disciples of today are those who love God above all and are willing to forsake everything for Jesus Christ, even family and friends who do not follow all of Jesus’ teachings.
Jesus proclaims: “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing.” There’s a vibrant urgency to these words that must have been apparent in his voice. What does he mean? Why is he so passionate about this? In the ancient Jewish world, fire was generally associated with judgment. So what kind of judgment does Jesus bring? He brings the judgment of the Cross. He brings the judgment that God so loved the world that He gave His only Son for us. He brings the judgment that brought St Paul to exclaim that “He loved me and He gave Himself for me. So when we really look at the crucifix, we see the judgment of God. We see the horror of sin, and the infinitely greater love of God who came to die to set us free from sin and unite us to Himself.
When Jesus states that he wants to set the world on fire, Jesus really means it, but not a physical fire of destruction, but with the fire of God Himself! The fire of God’s love given to us freely by the power of the Holy Spirit. We all have been baptized in this fire in Holy Baptism. Recall the words of John the Baptist, “I baptize you in water for repentance, but the one who is to follow me is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to carry His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire (Matthew 3:11).”
The fire is here now and always as God is fully present in His Church and in all of the seven living sacraments of God! Are we igniting the lives of others with our fire for God! Is our fire spreading into other people like wildfires spread in forest fires? This is the fire that Jesus is speaking about and in our day. This fire is needed more than ever when less families, children and adults of all ages are coming to Mass. We have become too comfortably a part of the modern secular culture, and this comfort has resulted in a dangerous complacency toward the life giving words of Jesus. Too often, we listen to these words, but not allow them to penetrate our hearts, transform our lives, and set the world on fire. There is something ultimately attractive when people become all that God created them to be. It is this striving that we need to rediscover again. I leave you with the words of St. Cyril of Alexandria (who lived in the 4th and 5th century) as he stated in his homily: “We affirm that the fire Christ sent out is for humanity’s salvation and profit. May God grant that all our hearts be full of this! The fire is the saving message of the gospel and the power of its commandments. The gospel ignites all of us on earth to live a life of piety and makes us fervent in spirit, according to the expression of blessed Paul. Besides this, we are also made partakers of the Holy Spirit, who is like fire within us. We have been baptized with fire and the Holy Spirit. This fire is the fire of the gospel that comes to us by the Holy Spirit in holy baptism and confirmation.”
Jesus calls us to change the world, to set it on fire with His love. Each person can share in this love, no matter how small the action seems to be today since there is no such thing as a small action in the eyes of God. There’s an everyday martyrdom to which we’re all called. It means smiling at someone when we feel lousy. It means a kind word when we feel like biting someone else’s head off when they something mean to us. It means refusing to give in to bitterness or hatred towards someone who’s hurt us, and instead choosing to forgive that person. Those little acts of witness to Christ’s love – of martyrdom – help to set the world on fire with love.
I continue to thank all of you for your continued hospitality and warmth you are showing me and each other. Please spread the good word of our wonderful parish and it is very nice to see more and more people coming back to worship God. Many of us are saying how great it is to see our parishioner families returning back.
St Louis de Montfort, pray for us!
Our Lady, Undoer of Knots, pray for us!
Have a great week and enjoy life with a great smile!