20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C Homily – Faith on Fire

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10
Hebrews 12:1-4
Luke 12:49-53
August 18, 2013

They are after Jeremiah to get rid of him.  Why?  We’re told it’s because he is demoralizing the soldiers and all the people.  They think he doesn’t care about the ‘welfare of the people.’

The fact is Jeremiah cares.  Jeremiah is a prophet and all he is doing is delivering God’s message.  If the people would just listen to him and follow his guidance their welfare would improve.

They don’t want to listen to him.  He’s telling them they have to change their ways and they deny it.

So, the princes go to King Zedekiah who lets them do as they wish with Jeremiah.  He couldn’t change their minds and rather than upset them, he lets them have their way.  He’s just trying to “keep the peace” but in reality that isn’t what happens.  Real peace comes in doing God’s will.

Jeremiah endured suffering and persecution.  Jeremiah sought to lead people to a lasting peace not just what would make them happy for a day.  Jeremiah wasn’t interested in just “keeping the peace.”

Jesus isn’t just “keeping the peace.”  For this, Jesus was persecuted and crucified.  Jesus knew what was going to happen.  He could have kept his mouth shut but he didn’t.

If Jesus had kept his mouth shut, we would never have heard his teaching.  All the people he cured would have continued to suffer.  Nothing would have changed.

Jesus did not keep his mouth shut for our good.  He spoke up and what he said caused division.  I don’t think Jesus wanted to cause division but he knew what he said would because not everyone wanted to hear what he had to say.  They knew how they wanted things to be and if Jesus didn’t do what they wanted, then he wasn’t the Messiah.

What did Jesus come for?  “To set the earth on fire.”

Fire can be thought of in different ways.  Fire can be seen as a force of destruction.  Fire can also be seen as cleansing, removing the bad so that what is good can thrive.  Fire can also be thought of as a sign of enthusiasm like when we say we are on fire with the Holy Spirit.  When Jesus says he comes to set the world on fire, he’s referring to cleansing and enthusiasm.  Destruction may come but it is not Jesus’ goal.  Jesus comes to lead all to the Father.

Have you told others about Jesus?  Many in our society might tell us not to bother other people with such things.  We “keep the peace” by not talking about Jesus.  We “keep the peace” by not talking about sin.

It seems simple.  Aren’t we supposed to get along with everyone?  If we want to get along with our family, we keep our mouth shut.

But Jesus says if we follow him, there will be division between family.

Family is important.  Jesus calls us to love and care about others.  Loving Jesus can mean loving our family but loving Jesus also means standing up for what we believe in.

It’s not just with family.  The same can be true in work or in play.  I’m not talking about “forcing God” on someone.  Do we even mention God?  Or if someone invites us to do something that is wrong in God’s eyes do we go along just not to upset them? If we see someone “erroring in sin” do we bit our tongue or so we speak up for what we believed in?

Jesus spoke up for what he believed in.  He did it with words in his preaching and he did it by hanging on the Cross.

How about you?  Has Jesus set your heart on fire with faith?



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