25 October. Thursday, Week 29
1st Reading: Ephesians (3:14-21)
May you grasp the depth of Christ’s love, beyond all knowing
I pray that you may not lose heart over my sufferings for you; they are your glory.
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,
from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name.
I pray that, according to the riches of his glory,
he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being
with power through his Spirit,
and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith,
as you are being rooted and grounded in love.
I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints,
what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge,
so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Resp. Psalm (Ps 33)
R.: The Lord fills the earth with his love
Ring our your joy to the Lord, O you just;
for praise is fitting for loyal hearts.
Give thanks to the Lord upon the harp,
with a ten-stringed lute sing him songs. (R./)
For the word of the Lord is faithful
and all his works to be trusted.
The Lord loves justice and right
and fills the earth with his love. (R./)
His own designs shall stand for ever,
the plans of his heart from age to age.
They are happy, whose God is the Lord,
the people he has chosen as his own. (R./)
The Lord looks on those who revere him,
on those who hope in his love,
to rescue their souls from death,
to keep them alive in famine. (R./)
Gospel: Luke (12:49-53)
Lighting his fire in our world, Christ also causes deep divisions
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 heart on fire
Ephesians centres on God’s love for us, a love that reaches beyond our logic and comprehension. If we were able to fully explain why we love someone, that love may be shallow. Deep love mysteriously makes “servants” of us, but not an imposed slavery where we tremble in fear; rather, a willing slavery that sets us on the way to eternal life, free from shame and fear. We have our dignity as “servants of justice.” If we risk everything for the sake of life in Christ and eternal life, we gain a new level of love and integrity of body and soul.
In the gospel Jesus is swept along by his passion to do his Father’s will. The language echoes his strong inner emotions, “How I wish the blaze were ignited!” The reference is clearly to his passion and death. Indeed St Luke shows him “firmly resolved to go towards Jerusalem” where he would be crucified. Of course, shortly before his death Jesus was plunged into agony. He prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, “Father, if it is your will, take this cup from me.”.. In his anguish he prayed with greater intensity, so that his sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground (Lk 22:42,44).
His own internal struggle can help us a appreciate the force and implication of Jesus’ other words: He foretells that serious division will split families into factions, each misunderstanding the other. Hopefully, such division be will only temporary, for in Jesus himself, where the split was felt most keenly, was a unifying power to break down all barriers and make one people of us all (Jew and gentile, male and female, servant and free). In Christ Jesus all tensions and hostilities can and will be reconciled, in the peace that only God can give.
A fiery ordeal
Today’s gospel gives us an insight into the sttruggle within the heart and soul of Jesus. He has come to bring fire to the earth and wishes it were already blazing. This probably refers to the fire of the Holy Spirit; at the beginning of his second volume Luke portrays the Holy Spirit coming down on the disciples in a form like tongues of fire. Yet, Jesus is aware that he cannot pour out the Holy Spirit until he has undergone his passion and death, what he calls a ‘baptism’ that he must receive. He admits that his distress is great until it is over.
Jesus was prepared to pass through this ordeal so that the fire of the Spirit can begin to blaze. We now benefit from Jesus’ ‘baptism by fire’, his passion and death. The fire of his Spirit is at work in our own lives. This fiery Spirit was given to us at great cost, the cost of Jesus’ passion and death. We need, therefore, to keep that fire of the Spirit burning in our hearts. We need to keep praying, ‘Come Holy Spirit, fill our hearts, and kindle in us the fire of your love.’