Homily (Reflection) for the Twentieth Sunday of the Year, (C) (14th August, 2016) on the Gospel

Jer 38:4-6.8-10;
Ps 39:2-4.18. (R.v.14);
Heb 12:1-4;
Lk 12:49-53.
Imagine someone presenting two pairs of boxing gloves to a couple on their weeding day. Certainly, it will bring about different reactions which might include reflecting on the possible use – playing, exhibition, toys, fighting their enemies or what? Or could it be for fighting each other?
Topic: True mission of Jesus.
Today’s gospel pericope is one of the scriptural passages that are often misunderstood. Hence for some, doing all manner of things that are capable of bringing division is a good way of actualizing Jesus’ mission on earth.
Jesus Christ is the “Prince of Peace” (Is 9:6). His coming would bring to an end wars between nations and His days to be characterized by extraordinary peace, cf. Is 2:1-4. 11:6-9; Mic 4:1-5.
Despite all these and many more, in today’s gospel we read these words of Jesus: “Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!” Barclay rightly noted that “to those who were learning to regard Jesus as the Messiah, the anointed one of God, these words would come as a bleak shock” (William Barclay, The daily study bible, IV, p. 169). And for Fernando, “these words of Jesus seem surprising”.[1]
Jesus also said that He “came to bring fire to the earth ….” We know that fire does a good number of functions both desirable and undesirable ones; purification (Rev. 3:18, 1Pt 1:7), punishment and destruction (Gen 19:24; Matt 3:10,12; Matt 18:8-9; Matt 25:41; Lk 3:17; Mk 9:43), keeping warm (Mk 14:54), preparation of meals (Jn 21:9), among others. There are other uses of fire but for the purpose of this homily, we limit ourselves to these. Fernando rightly noted that “the fire announced by the prophets and brought by Jesus, purifies and saves. It is the fire of his word, his message of salvation ….” Fernando Armellini, p. 199.
He further stresses, “the message of Jesus is a fire that will cause problems; it will shake up the lives of many people. The purveyors of injustice will be disturbed by the gospel” He warns, “Woe to us if it wasn’t” Fernando Armellini, pp. 199-200.
His coming would inevitably mean division; in point of fact it did. That was one of the greatest reasons why the Romans hated Christianity – it tore families in two. Over and over again a man had to decide whether he loved better his kith and kin or Christ. The essence of Christianity is that loyalty to Christ has to take precedence over the dearest loyalties of this earth. A man must be prepared to count all things but loss for the excellence of Jesus Christ (William Barclay, p. 170).
Children of God must, “always seek unity, with its starting point the word of God, truth” (Fernando Armellini, p. 200). The gospel of Christ is a message of peace but this must be true peace based on justice and truth. God requires His children to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with Him, cf. Mic 6:8.
Bible Reading: Is 9:1-7. 11:1-9; 1Cor 1:10-17. 12:12-31; Phil 3:2-11.
Thought for today: Christ is our peace (cf. Eph 2:14).
Let us pray: Lord, give us the grace to understand your message and to stand by you always even when alone – Amen.

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[1] Armellini, F. (2007). Celebrating the word, Year C, Kenya: Paulines, p. 199

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