HAPPY ARE THOSE WHO PLACED THEIR TRUST IN THE LORD
(THURSDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2019)
In the first reading of today, St. Paul traces a clear line between a life of service of sin a life under the Lordship of Christ. It also points to the endpoint of each path. The final result of sinful works is death, and death represents a separation without the possibility of return. Such separation is the self-inflicted fate of those who obstinately choose to exclude God from their lives. The scenario presented by St. Paul in this first reading corresponds perfectly to that of the Gospel reading.
Together with the dark possibility of rejection of the Gospel and consequent condemnation, there is also a broad horizon of eternal life founded in Jesus Christ.
So the Prince of Peace has apparently changed His script and speaks in today’s Gospel of fire, and division. Jesus states quite definitely that He knows what He is about to do. What He must accomplish is clear to Him. His baptism in the Jordan has oriented Him to baptize or purify or bless this world with the saving waters and blood flowing from His Body on the cross. The fire is His spirit and the baptism, for which He longs to experience, is His Bodily mission.
Jesus is the Divine Inviter and presents to His hearers and watchers, the opportunity for each to accept or reject.
It is interesting to note that Jesus does not talk about friends, neighbours, business partners being separated from one another. Rather, in the times of Jesus, family unity was so sacred and identifying. It was the basis of stability in the Jewish culture according to the law of Moses. This is exactly how dramatic the response of each person has to be. The father or mother will not be the deciding person in the relationship to which Jesus is inviting. The response will be personal, intimate and interior.
All relationships provoke tensions, because is something is being offered so as to be received, something is being ask-for, let-go-of, surrendered. Jesus knew that He had received Himself both as a Gift of the Father to this human existence and that His own baptism was going to be the result of His letting go, His offering-back of His Life.
By nature, invitations are offered and received with freedom on both sides. Neither can be forced.
Jesus is explicitly stating that He has come not to offer a false peace which comes from not caring, but a personal response which flows from a decision to be cared for by the creating God even if this decision were to violate the most normal and familial relationships. The peace Jesus offers is the fruit of His being baptized on the cross, and we are invited to receive the peace He offers to those united by Him.
The readings call us to prepare for what is to come. We are just two months away from the coming of our Lord and Savior on Christmas. We will soon embrace Advent and rejoice in the birth of the Lord.
While our rejoicing is genuine, are we ready for the rest? Are we ready to be at odds with others, even those we love? The question we need to ask repeatedly: are we ready? As we look to the celebration of the birth of Christ, are we ready for a second coming? We must turn our lives over to God and trust. We are not the ones in control, although we certainly make our own choices. St. Paul reminds us that we are "slaves" to many things in life. Things that lead us away from God, instead, he urges us to be "slaves," that is, give up our sense of control, to God. Give ourselves to God and feel the hope in our lives.
Let Us Pray: Lord Jesus, give me grace to look up to you at all times espe silly in my times of distress and may I not be a disappointment to you. Amen.