This is the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Jesus tells us that he has come to set the earth on fire.
In our first reading from Jeremiah, the prophet struggles with the realities of being the bearer of both the good news and the bad news. The people and some of the leaders don’t care much for Jeremiah and his corrections. He was demoralizing the people. Certainly no one likes to hear bad news, so they car Jeremiah to be a faithful servant of God. When God called Jeremiah to be a prophet he gave him fair warning, “I place my words in your mouth.” Some will fight against you but will not prevail over you. Our world is filled with the good and the bad. God’s hope is to lead us to be the best we all can be, in hopes of overcoming the bad. We can silence our prophets, but God will always raise up new leaders who will preach the truth. We can’t go wrong if we follow God’s word.
The Letter to the Hebrews speaks to us about “the cloud of witness,” which includes the suffering servants of God, like Jeremiah and the many others who have gone before us. Jesus is of course the ultimate witness of the suffering servant. He endured the cross and grave in order to save all humanity. We too are called to follow Jesus who encourages us “not to grow weary and lose heart.”
In Luke’s Gospel Jesus continues his warning of times to come. Be prepared! He tells us he will bring division among families and friends. We already know the world is filled with division and strife. Even John the Baptist spoke of Jesus baptizing us in fire and Spirit. Some scholars suggest Jesus may be talking about the fire of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, or the fire of eternal judgement. There will always be differences in our world. We can’t possibly go wrong if we error on the side of faith and hope in the words of Jesus. The Church is God’s gift to us to lead and guide us on this sometimes difficult journey of life. May we use God’s gifts, especially the Sacraments, to overcome sinfulness and pride and gain our eternal reward, “HEAVEN!”