The Way to Peace

20th Sunday of Ordinary Time
By Fr. Chinnappan Pelavendran

In today’s world, every morning we see and hear multiple stories of division and violence, in families, cities and countries. In today’s gospel Jesus asked his disciple a question? “Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” He then talks about households being divided and family members turning on each other. What is the message Jesus is trying to convey to the disciples and to us? Is He trying to open our minds and hearts to the reality of our world and the reality of our human condition?

In the first reading, the prophet Jeremiah experiences the consequences of the word of God burning within him. His message was so disturbing to the leading men in the society so their simple and selfish plan was to get rid of him by setting the king up against him. Although they succeeded in their lot, God proved himself a powerful Savior. As the one who sent the prophet, He did not allow him to perish, but in His way came to his aid. Our God is ever faithful and ready to deliver us in times of difficulty.

Today’s second reading is from the letter to the Hebrews. It reminds the early Christians of what an authentic Christian life consists of, that is, to remain faithful to the will of the Heavenly Father even to the point of enduring opposition and suffering death just as Jesus did. The author of this letter reminds the community not to lose sight of Jesus by remaining steadfast to Him and not becoming discouraged in their commitments to his teaching. Jesus promises that the faithful follower will receive a divine reward. This passage is clearly encouraging the new converts to reject the previous way of life in favor of a life in Christ.

In today’s gospel, Jesus, the Prince of peace invites his disciple to a holy war against sin and evil forces. The message of Jesus brings love, compassion, harmony, and peace. Love brings people together so that there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave or free, male or female. It is Jesus nature challenges injustice, corruption, discrimination, abuse, dishonesty, and all attacks on human dignity. Jesus has come to set fire on earth and bring division instead of peace. Fire is the sign of purification – Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. Fire is the symbol of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a consuming fire. The ministry of Jesus on earth included preparing the way for the coming of the Holy Spirit, the as Sanctifier.

The Spirit of Jesus is given to all freely who choose to follow him through baptism. This is a fire planted within us, to guide us, to direct us, and to admonish us when we deviate from the path. The fire of Jesus that lives in each of us helps to mold us into what we are meant to be, a burning flame that warms our hearts and encourages us to continue the work of Jesus today.

During our baptism we received the light of Christ and were instructed to keep that light burning brightly until the return of Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit was sent into our hearts at Confirmation to set us on fire. We have to inflame people to care, to serve, and to bless one another with all the gifts of Faith. We should allow that fire to burn the impurities in us that may be war, violence, and division and to discover the pure gold and silver within us.

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