Sunday, August 18, 2013

Homily for 18 Aug 2013, 20th Sun OT C

In today’s first reading, we hear about the struggle that Jeremiah was facing as a prophet to the people. The princes, who had the ear of the king, sought to end Jeremiah’s life because they did not like the message he was spreading about the need to change their lives. They were content with the way things seemed to be going, even when it would mean destruction later on. It is not always easy for us to accept the realization that sometimes we get too comfortable with our current way of doing things that we stand in the way of change that may lead to our own survival.

In the Gospel, we hear Jesus telling us that he came to “set the earth on fire” and wishes “it were already blazing!”

It should illicit in each one of us a question about how the fire is burning within our own lives. Are we able to really burn with a zeal that causes us to go beyond our comfort zone to be a part of the new evangelization? One of the commentaries I read about the gospel for this weekend went so far to suggest that when Jesus becomes the first priority in our lives there may be some division within households as some strive to faithfully follow Christ while others stand as roadblocks to the truth, which is Christ. I know from my experience as a priest that there have been many families who have faced these difficulties. There is a tension between a desire for Christ and a desire for the things of this world. Many of us and our family members fall somewhere in the middle of the continuum concerning these two poles. We do not see the full division of which Christ speaks. In a word, most of us are comfortable with where we are at the moment. We are not fully on fire.

As the priest, and more importantly, as the pastor of the parish, part of my task is to help direct you beyond this life and, hopefully help you find the fire of which Jesus speaks and fan the flames so that it may burn all the brighter. It is not an easy task. Sometimes, people respond much like the princes who went to the king seeking to silence Jeremiah. This is because change is scary. Change is difficult. Change sometimes means sacrificing some of our comfort.

Will you today let the fire of change burn in your hearts so that you have the zeal to go out to all the world and tell the good news? It might mean changing some of the expectations you have of yourself and or others. It might mean looking at your faith through a new lens. It might even mean considering serving the Church in a professional way, such as being a teacher at a Catholic school, volunteering to be a part of a parish team or even, if you are not yet married, considering whether or not God might be calling you to serve him as a consecrated religious, or a priest.

Jesus came to set the world on fire. We are called to fan the true flames of faith. We may be treated like Jerimiah in order to get the job done, be we can be sure that God is with us.

As we heard in the reading from the Letter to the Hebrews:
For the sake of the joy that lay before him
he endured the cross, despising its shame,
and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God.

Let us be filled with the same joy. Amen
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