October 20, 2016
Thursday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time
The Gospel Today
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?
No, I tell you, but rather division.
From now on a household of five will be divided,
three against two and two against three;
a father will be divided against his son
and a son against his father,
a mother against her daughter
and a daughter against her mother,
a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”
REFLECTION (Sem. Mark Ian V. Abu)
During the time of Jesus, I think there were times that the disciples were wondering and confused about His teaching. First He says one thing, then He says another. He reprimanded them for wanting to call down fire upon a city, then in the Gospel for today He wanted to bring fire on the earth. Clearly, he does not mean a serene and calm scenery but rather, promises experiences of struggles and conflicts even among family members. And this will happen when one decides to follow Him closely. I think that is how to describe the discipleship that Jesus is offering to each one us: a radical way of following Him.
Today, Jesus anticipates the hard consequences of discipleship. The decision to follow Him for the sake of the kingdom is oftentimes unacceptable, impractical and incomprehensible. When I first enter the seminary, there were also discouragements and disapprovals from my family. It was like an experience of family division yet there was peace and happiness in me that led them, little by little, to understand and support my decision to follow the Lord. As I look back, I realize that it was part of the calling. And I know that even in the future, this life that I chose to live will bring again conflicts and division like fire, in the same way that Jesus’ life was considered a sign of division to many during His time.
Sometimes we wish that Jesus will not be so demanding. Yet that is not the manner He wants to call us. He will even lead us to where we dare not go. His fire goes beyond our will and personal plans. It will consume us so that our choosing Him will truly be genuine. But the fire Jesus brought and continuously brings to the world is Himself. It is the fire of Love. This is the love which not only unites souls to God but unites souls to one another. This fire should emerge from families: father and mother, son and father, mother and mother-in-law. Each small flame for God necessarily kindles other flames. Let us be consumed by the fire of Jesus’ love!