By Rev. Ray Atwood, Sacred Heart Catholic Church, St. Mary of Mt. Carmel, and St. Paul Catholic Church
Fire and Division
Sometimes Our Lord is portrayed as a long-haired middle-aged nice guy who came to preach love, joy, and peace. But Scripture tells a different story. In Luke chapter 12 Jesus says: “I have come to set the earth on fire” and “I have come to establish…division” (12:49, 51). Instead of love and peace, Jesus comes with fire and division. How’s that for a Savior?
“I have come to set fire on earth.” Some scholars say this refers to the fire of divine judgment at the end of time; others say it refers to the Holy Spirit. Fire refers to purification, passion, and charity. The Lord has come to set the earth on fire with His love. The fire of God’s love purifies us of our ego. EGO stands for Edging God Out. When we become inflated with pride, we edge God out of our hearts. The Lord comes to purify us of this sin with the fire of His love.
Fire also represents zeal. We need zealous Christians, who are not afraid to put their baptismal and Confirmation gifts into practice. We need to stir up the fire within us and call the world out of its complacency and apathy.
A woman took her five-year-old grandson to church on Sunday. Being a member of the choir she went up to sing, while the boy and his grandpa sat in the congregation. During the service, the woman motioned several times to the boy to poke grandpa and keep him awake. But there was no response. After the service, the woman asked her grandson why he didn’t do what she asked, especially since she had given him 50 cents. He replied, “Grandpa gave me a dollar to let him sleep.” Too many people are asleep in the faith, and need the fire of God’s love.
“I have come to establish division.” Division refers to His Word. God’s Word is a word of truth and justice. That word divides those who accept it from those who deny it. When we compromise truth, then we end up fighting against God. When we bear witness to truth we are on the side of God. We live with those who deny truth, and so God’s Word divides. We should strive to remain on the side of truth.
May we trust in the Lord and receive His Spirit of truth and light this week and beyond.