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?
Have you seen those “photomosaic” pictures of Christ? Hundreds of small pictures of different people making up the face of Christ. Today’s Gospel is much like those contemporary, high-tech portraits; as we listen to Jesus describe the difficult consequences of preaching the Kingdom. He’s come, he says, to set a fire on the earth, to receive a painful baptism, to create division among family members. As the message is preached, those who cannot accept it will find themselves in opposition to Christ.
So how are these troubling words from Jesus like those multi-faceted portraits? Well, as we listen and look to Jesus in today’s Gospel, I believe we’re also seeing the many faces of the early Christians for whom Saint Luke preached and wrote the Gospel. They must have faced persecution from outside—a harsh baptism of fire—and divisions internally, as these first-century followers of Christ tried to put into practice his message.
Can we find our own faces there as well? To preach the gospel will sometimes mean placing ourselves in opposition to prevailing opinion, and even in opposition to values held by our families and friends. We can take some consolation in knowing that other Christians have endured it before us—and more importantly, Jesus himself.
In this week's first reading, why did the princes say to the king that Jeremiah should be put to death?
What did the king do when Ebed-melech reported to the king how Jeremiah had been thrown into the dry cistern? Did the king want Jeremiah to die?
The second reading urges us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. How does it describe Jesus?
Does this letter call upon us to be steady in our faith? Does it seem to expect that the disciples of Jesus should be ready to lay down their lives for their faith?
In the Gospel, Jesus speaks about how he has come to set the earth on fire. He says he has come to bring about division, even within families, on matters of faith. Did that happen to the people of his time?
Are there any disagreements in your family about religion or about going to church on Sunday? How do you work to resolve them?
by Susan Hines-Brigger
Instead of seeing the division of the Gospel in a negative way, turn the idea of division into something positive. Split your family up into teams and play some sort of game. Perhaps it's a game like charades or an outside game such as volleyball or kickball.
The second reading speaks of the road that lies before us. Take some time to think about things you would like to do or accomplish within the next few months. Either write out a list or make a vision board with images of those goals to help inspire you to achieve them.