Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 18, 2013 Cycle C
by Rev. Jose Maria Cortes, F.S.C.B.

Home Page  
Sunday Reading Reflections Index

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

“I have come to set the earth on fire.” In today’s Gospel, Jesus shows us his burning heart, his passion for the world. He is on fire. His love for us is a burning fire.

Camões, a Portuguese poet has a poem that says: “Love is a fire that burns unseen […].” Pope Benedict XVI wrote that the fire is Christ’s own passion of love.

Fire has three characteristics: it warms, illuminates and purifies.

Fire warms. Jesus came to this world to bring God’s love. He brought the heat that can warm the cold human heart. Heat is a sign of life. What is dead is cold. Jesus’ fire is able to defrost the ice that prevents us from loving each other.

Fire illuminates. Jesus brought the light that can illuminate us, to show who we are. Jesus is the Truth. In today’s Gospel, Jesus says that he did not come to bring peace but division. Before him, we cannot be indifferent. Many times truth hurts eyes that are accustomed to darkness. Jesus’ truth necessarily contradicts all falsities. It opposes the powers of this world.

In the first reading, Jeremiah was thrown into a cistern. He was teaching the truth to the people in Jerusalem. He was proclaiming what God was saying to him. His teaching made many people uncomfortable. Therefore, they tried to get rid of him. Jeremiah suffered greatly in his mission as a prophet. He also had moments of dismay: “But if I say, ‘I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,’ his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.” He never gave up because he had God’s fire burning in his heart.

Fire purifies. We need purification. We need to change our hearts and our minds. Jesus did not come to confirm what we already are. He came to call us to conversion. He wants to remind us that we are far from God and from his paths. We need to be purified. There is a long path towards holiness. Jesus is calling us for something truly great.

Jesus wants to ignite our hearts. He says in the Gospel:  “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing.” He has a burning zeal to share the fire that consumes him with us.

The second reading says: “We are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses.” This cloud of witnesses is made up of the saints, people who let their lives be set aflame by Christ. In the lives of the saints, we find participation in Jesus’ passion of love. They are models for us. They had their eyes fixed on Christ. Saint Gemma Galgani said: “You are on fire, O Lord, and I burn. O pain, O infinitely happy love! O sweet fire! O sweet flames! And would You wish my heart to become a flame? […] I will open my heart to You; put Thy Divine fire into it. You are a flame, and let my heart be turned into a flame! [...] Come then, O Jesus! Your heart is a flame and you wish mine to be turned into a flame as well.”

In order to be set on fire by Christ’s love, there is only one thing required: to have our eyes fixed on Him. From his gaze comes the fire that warms, illuminates and purifies our lives.

Let us ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit. May he inflame our hearts with God’s love.

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Home Page  
Sunday Reading Reflections Index