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08/14/16 Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Fr. James

esus uses strong words in today’s gospel: “I have come to set the earth on fire…Do you think that I have come to establish peace on earth? No, but rather division.”

Fire can make something strong; that is why we put pots on fire. Fire can make something soft; that is why we put a piece of iron into the fire, it turns red and then you can bend it. Fire gives us light… as in candle or electric bulb. Fire takes away pain. If you have sprained ankle or swollen hand, put it close to the heat. Heat helps the pain to go away.

The message of Jesus is like a fire because it changes, it purifies and refines us. Jesus came to transform our lives. We have potential to become something totally new if we allow the spark of grace to burn our souls.

The fire Jesus speaks about is not the fire of destruction. It is the fire of God’s presence as in the burning bush that Moses saw, as in the pillar of fire that accompanied the Israelites in the desert and as in the tongues of fire at Pentecost.

As a purifying fire it can also bring pain and purification. That is why Jesus says, “I have come not to bring peace but division.” Scholars tell us that Jesus is speaking here not about the purpose of his coming but about the inevitableconsequence of his coming. Belief in Jesus and standing for the values can cause fires of arguments and division between believers and non-believers in the same family.

It’s interesting to note that Jesus did not just say He came to set the world on fire; rather, He says that He wishes it were already blazing. We are not called to be partly transformed. We are called to become blazing fires of faith, transformed by God to make a true difference in the world. Reflect upon the fire within your own soul. How brightly is that fire burning? You need to feed that fire on a daily basis, fanning it into flame with complete commitment.

When we are persecuted and tempted to "abandon the struggle", "let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus". When there's division in our families, when we get the bad news or good news "let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus". The crucified and glorified Jesus invites each of us not only to look at Him but to live for Him. Accept His invitation.

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