14 Aug 202 – 20th Sunday (C)

14 Aug 202 – 20th Sunday (C)

(1) Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10

Jeremiah is dropped into a well to die, but is saved by a foreigner

The officials said to the king, “This Jeremiah ought to be put to death, because he is discouraging the soldiers who are left in this city, and all the people, by speaking such words to them. For this man is not seeking the welfare of this people, but their harm.” King Zedekiah said, “Here he is; he is in your hands; for the king is powerless against you.” So they took Jeremiah and threw him into the cistern of Malchiah, the king’s son, which was in the court of the guard, letting Jeremiah down by ropes. Now there was no water in the cistern, but only mud, and Jeremiah sank in the mud.

Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, a eunuch in the king’s house, heard that they had put Jeremiah into the cistern. The king happened to be sitting at the Benjamin Gate, So Ebed-melech left the king’s house and spoke to the king, “My lord king, these men have acted wickedly in all they did to the prophet Jeremiah by throwing him into the cistern to die there of hunger, for there is no bread left in the city.” Then the king commanded Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, “Take three men with you from here, and pull the prophet Jeremiah up from the cistern before he dies.”

Responsorial: Psalm 39:2-4, 18

R./: Lord, come to my aid

I waited, I waited for the Lord
and he stooped down to me;
he heard my cry. (R./)

He drew me from the deadly pit,
from the miry clay.
He set my feet upon a rock
and made my footsteps firm. (R./)

He put a new song into my mouth,
praise of our God.
Many shall see and fear
and shall trust in the Lord. (R./)

As for me, wretched and poor,
the Lord thinks of me.
You are my rescuer, my help,
O God, do not delay! (R./)

(2) Hebrews 12:1-4

Persevere, for we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses

Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.

Gospel: Luke 12:49-53

Christ calls for total loyalty, even if it causes severe dissension

Jesus said to his disciples,
“I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No,I tell you, but rather division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”


A bit of a challenge

Today’s Gospel is a bit of a challenge, in two parts. The first part states the passionate desire of Jesus, first in the language of fire and then of baptism. There is a sense of something tremendous about to take place, both destructive and purifying, and also a sense of foreboding. There’s something very human and vulnerable about it, echoing our own existential situation.

The second part of the Gospel reflects the experience of the early church. When a person became a Christ-believer, it could affect the harmony and cohesion of his or her whole family. It may well be that we are back to that situation today. The conscious choice of discipleship and our full engagement with it can indeed be disconcerting if not disruptive for our families and friends.

Lighting a fire

Many well-off Christians are deeply attached to the status-quo that favours them, and consider it the main task of Christianity to help maintain law and order. They find it strange and wrong if Jesus seems to invite, not economic and social and conservatism, but a deep and radical transformation of society. “I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were blazing already… Do you suppose that I am here to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.”

It’s not easy for us to accept Jesus as bringing fire, destined to destroy so much lying, violence and injustice. He wanted to radically transform the world, even at the cost of challenging and dividing people. Following Jesus isn’t a kind of fatalism, passive and resigned to the status quo, valuing tranquility above all else.

Christians should seek eagerly, creatively and in solidarity for a better world. But neither are they rebels motivated by resentment, who tear everything down and then replaces one dictatorship with another. Those who really listen to Jesus are moved by his passionate desire for completely changed world. True disciples have “revolution” in their heart, in the sense of wanting a more just society.

The world order so praised by the powerful is rather a disorder. We are far from giving food to all the hungry, or guaranteing everyone’s rights, or even eliminating wars and getting rid of nuclear arms. The revolution we need is deeper than merely economic reforms. It must transform people’s and nations’ consciences. What we want is a world “where competition, the struggle of individuals one against another, deception, cruelty and massacres no longer have a reason to exist” (H. Marcuse). Whoever follows Jesus wants the fire lit by him to burn brightly in this world. The main thing asked of Christians is that they be authentic. That would be the real revolution.

Peace and Division

“Do you think that I am come to bring peace on earth?” Quite honestly, we would hope so. We’ve come to equate Jesus with peace; is he not the Prince of Peace? The Communion Rite links him with peace; the discourse at the Last Supper is peppered with the word. Yet, when he answers his own question, he confuses us. “No. I tell you, but rather division.”

We look at the life of Jesus for clues as to how “peace” and “division” can be reconciled. One approach is to find Jesus exercising options in his life; facing moments when he has a choice of two roads ?” the easy pliant one of the prevailing culture or the lonely reforming one. His decisions cause divisions. Some of the division and turmoil is within himself (the garden scene.) some between himself and others ?” his mother and relatives. Peter on the road to Jerusalem, the final divisiveness of the cross of scandal.

Each time Jesus decides to follow the Father’s will, that has two effects. It divides him off from those who won’t take the step with him, and it moves him deeper into the peace that comes from being true to who you are. The peace Jesus talks about has a shape to it. It is not the wishy-washy, compromising, anything-for-a-quiet-life kind of peace we often settle for. When he mentions “division” in the same breath, we begin to see division as almost the price of authentic peace. We could spend time going through the decisions of Jesus. He reached out; he had compassion; he suffered along with people; he understood their pain; he broke bread with the hungry; he befriended the poor and sinners; he was at ease with the little, working poor people who lived in the shadow of the powerful elite.

The problem is that while we’ve read and heard these scenes a thousand times, we’ve lost sight of how disruptive and unconventional Jesus was. He talked of Samaritans saving Jewish lives! He praised the father who embraced the son who shamed him! You were to share your cloak and tunic, all you wore, literally! The soldier in the occupying army was to be accompanied not just the one mile but another mile, unbidden.

Jesus parted company with the authorities, not because he wished to but because they did. His warm, open-handed approach to others provoked in the authorities an angry, clench-fisted reaction. To preserve the status quo they would have to be rid of this challenging presence. The crucifixion was meant to silence him for good. Instead, it gave him the last word. It not only capped his life of sacrifice but raised up an iconic sign to inspire us over the centuries. The sacrificed life of Jesus shows the price to be paid if we are to reach the peace he calls us to.

The problem is that while we’ve read and heard these scenes a thousand times, we’ve lost sight of how disruptive and unconventional Jesus was. He talked of Samaritans saving Jewish lives! He praised the father who embraced the son who shamed him! You were to share your cloak and tunic, all you wore, literally! The soldier in the occupying army was to be accompanied not just the one mile but another mile, unbidden.

Jesus parted company with his critics, not because he wished to but because they did. To his open-handed approach they gave a clench-fisted reaction. They wanted rid of his challenging presence. But the cross that was meant to silence him for good it gave him instead his supreme victory. It completed his life of service and self-sacrifice — showing us the price to be paid if we are to reach the ultimate peace.

One Comment

  1. Thara Benedicta says:

    Readings: 14 Aug 202 – 20th Sunday (C)

    Key Message:
    Let us keep our focus on Lord Jesus and move forward!!

    God has set a big goal in front of us. We need to meet our goals by going through the difficulties and avoiding distractions.
    When we work towards our righteous goals also, we will go through sufferings. In the first reading we see that prophet Jeremiah was suffering because He had spoken God’s word to the people. But God our Father lifted him from the miry clay. He lifted him from tears to laughter. When Prophet Jeremiah was in the well, his eyes could not have seen any way of getting away from this clay well. In the same way, even when our physical eyes are not able to see any way of getting out from our deep well, God is working out strategies for us to come out of our well. He will send someone, maybe an unexpected person too, to pick us from the clay well.
    The Prophet Jeremiah was pushed with the intention that he should die. But God pulled Him out and made him continue his ministry. In the midst of opposition, God will take care of us.
    In the Sermon on the Mount, our Lord has given the same promise. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” When we are persecuted for doing the right thing, we will be filled on earth and will inherit heaven.

    The second reading tells us exactly how we need to respond to our hardships and still follow our goals with the example of our Lord Jesus. Our Lord Jesus had a challenging life, His life was not an easy one. He also persevered towards it. Amidst of His sufferings He did not grow weary or lose heart.
    Our Lord Jesus suffered, looking at the end goal. His terrible sufferings did not allow Him to lose heart, because He knew this was the path He had to travel, and in the end there would be great victory.

    In the world we will have a great fight. God has said that we will have to face tribulations. John 16:33 says: “In the world, you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.” So then let us not question ourselves, why we are suffering.
    When we fight with God on our side, our end results will be sheer happiness. When the Israelites were in war, Moses had to lift up his hands. When Moses hands were lifted up high, the Israelites won, but when his hands were down, the Israelites were losing. Our Almighty God gave this instruction to Moses so that we understand the power of prayer during the war. When we war, always our prayer should go in front. In all the Israelites tours, praises always went ahead. Prayer brings solutions to our problems.

    Whenever our mind tries to worry, let us turn it into worship.
    Our Lord Jesus did not lose heart on account of any of the terrible sufferings He underwent. The amazing thing is He always knew from His childhood that He had to undergo terrible sufferings. He would have read when He was a child the description about His sufferings in Isaiah – “his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness”. “He was familiar with suffering.” Assume when a prophet predicts our future with these words we will be suffering even before these things happen. The prediction of the sufferings did not stop our Lord Jesus from enjoying little little joys in His life.
    Sometimes we even assume things may go wrong and lose our joy. Whether it actually happens or not, we would have suffered enough for it. Let us not worry about the buffalo we do not have.
    This kind of worry is a great distractor from achieving our goals.

    As the second reading says there are multiple weights that we need to shed. One more is wondering whether we have spiritually arrived at the place where our God wants us to be. We may even feel bad thinking God will be angry at us since we are committing lots of sins. Our God is a perfect positive thinker. He always thinks positively about our spiritual growth. He has never lost hope on any of us. When we fall into sin and ask for forgiveness, He immediately forgets it. He is always holding us in the palm of His hands and says “Do not worry, you will get better”.
    He is always a good encourager. All His parables were stories of encouragement. When we feel that we are the prodigal son, we can always look at our Almighty Father searching for us.

    So let us not go backward worrying about our sins. There is always our Almighty Father helping us to march forward.
    Our Lord Jesus Christ taught us to hold on to our faith even in the case of severe sufferings. He had always taught us about love, His second commandment is loving one another as thyself. In our Gospel reading today He says “Father will be against his believing son and son will be against his believing father, mother against her believing daughter and daughter against her believing mother…” We see that when a person accepts this new faith from a family who does not know our Lord Jesus Christ, this is what happens. But at the end, the believing family member brings the entire family into the house of God.

    Whatever it is, let us persevere in our walk towards God.

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