“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!” Jesus
says in the Gospel this Sunday (Luke 12:49-53). This “fire” is the Holy Spirit, the love
of God the Father, Son & Holy Spirit that keeps us on the path of Salvation, helps
us follow the Lord, gives meaning to our life and enables us to cooperate with God
in His building a civilization of justice, love and peace. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
has said that this fire of God’s love burns away the chaff of sin, corruption, cruelty and violence, making us bright, pure, free and grand – “being a Christian, then, is daring
to entrust oneself to this burning fire” (God and the World, Ignatius Press, 2002, pp.
222-223). The fire is set ablaze when we speak the Truth, Jesus Christ. “The message
of the Church is there precisely in order to conflict with our behavior, to tear man out
of his life of lies and bring clarity and truth. Truth makes demands and it also burns.”
How do we make sense of Jesus’ statement that He will cause “division” on earth
(Luke 12:51 ; Matthew 10:34), when we know that His kingdom is one of peace,
joy and love? We understand this “division” when we realize that Jesus desires to
separate us from what keeps us from following Him (selfishness, lies, pride, materialism, relativism, disobedience to His life-giving teachings…). Jesus knows that people will either embrace or reject His grace as He seeks to establish His kingdom of peace, joy and love – the Kingdom of God, the mystical Body of Christ. But in order for the kingdom of His family to emerge, all the false families & enemies of family have to give way – if families, societies and cultures are predicated upon control, manipulation, lies, demonization, dictatorships, domination and arrogance, then that has to be cleared away, giving way to charity, clarity & truth. Indeed, the peace of Christ is not simply the “absence of conflicts,” Pope Benedict has said (Angelus, August 19, 2007). On the contrary, Jesus’ peace is the result of a constant battle against evil – indeed, the fight that Jesus is determined to support is against Satan, the enemy of God. It is a battle between good and evil.
As disciples of Jesus Christ, we follow in the footsteps of our Lord Jesus Christ and,
in accordance with Saint Francis of Assisi’s well-known prayer, we become “instruments of peace” when we have the courage and fortitude to overcome evil with good (Romans 12: 21) in our daily words and deeds, and are willing to be witnesses for God’s love (the Greek word for witness is “martyr,” as all disciples of Christ should be willing to be martyrs for the love of God).
This past Thursday, August 15, we joined the universal Church in celebrating the
Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, an honor that Jesus Christ
gave to His mother. Mary certainly shared in her Son Jesus’ fight with the devil and
continues to share in it to the end of time. Let us always invoke her motherly intercession so that she may help us to be witnesses to Jesus Christ’s peace, joy and love, witnesses to the Truth, on fire with His love.
With peace and prayers in Christ,