Skip to main content

20th Sunday of Ordinary Time

The battle between good and evil.  Today’s society has, to a certain extent, marginalized evil.  Yes, those things that are truly horrendous are recognized as evil, but we’ve grown somewhat complacent to how some lesser evils can lead one in the wrong direction.  Our readings this week try to stir things up to point us in the right direction:

Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10
Psalm 40:2, 3, 4, 18
Hebrews 12:1-4
Luke 12:49-53

Our first reading is from the book of the prophet Jeremiah.  Jeremiah, as we may remember, is that great prophet who foresaw and witnessed the beginning of the end for Jerusalem.  Our passage this Sunday takes place shortly before the fall.  King Zedekiah, the last king of Judah (placed there by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar himself) has always had difficulty with the aristocracy of Jerusalem.  Here the “princes of Jerusalem” are tired of Jeremiah’s continuing cries against them and his predictions of the ruin of Jerusalem.  Zedekiah is put between a rock and a hard spot, so in a move similar to how Pontus Pilot dealt with his troublesome prophet, told the princes to deal with him themselves.  So, they have him thrown down into a muddy cistern… a dry well.  One of the court officials, Ebed-melech, sees this and tells the king.  Zedekiah promptly tells him to have Jeremiah drawn out of the cistern, because even for all the trouble he’s caused, Zedekiah fears what might happen should the prophet of the Lord die on his watch.  Our Psalm echoes what we could imagine to be Jeremiah’s prayer while down in that well, “Lord, come to my aid.”

Our gospel is a continuation of our gospel last week from Luke.  Jesus has just given his disciples instructions on how to be vigilant and faithful servants, but now he’s telling them that he has “come to set the world on fire,” declaring that families will be divided.  Wait, what?  Did we hear that right?  Is this the same Jesus who taught us to turn the other cheek?  Jesus says he’s not here to bring peace, but instead to bring division and discord.  Strong words from the “prince of peace.”  What’s going on here?

This is a passage where we need to take a step back, pause, and pray.  There is much more going on below the surface with this passage.  Among other things, Jesus is fighting against the status quo, and the only way to fight this kind of complacency is to stir things up.  Jesus did come to create discord… to be that agent of change.  The “baptism of fire” he talks about is a reference to his coming death on the cross.  The task before his disciples is to join him in becoming those agents of change… to shake the people from their complacency and rebuild a relationship with God.  Jesus needs his disciples to understand that this mission is much more than a fight against the Sanhedrin or the Romans, it’s a fight between good and evil.

So how do we win against evil?  Perhaps our second reading holds the key.  Continuing our study of the letter to the Hebrews, the author teaches that we should rid ourselves of every burden, and keep “our eyes fixed on Jesus.”  If the power of God can help Jesus from death to resurrection, then consider how he can help us through our struggles.

Final thoughts:
The discord Jesus is talking about is that necessary disturbance to wake us from our complacency, like an alarm clock for our salvation.  Evil and darkness are real, but it doesn’t necessarily show itself right away.  Evil’s gasp is slow and seductive and methodical.  It starts with all good intention, or at least good excuses, but if left unchecked, not recognizing it in time, we could find ourselves in a place where it seems too late to turn back.  How do we fight this?  By “keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus.”  If there’s one thing our experience of the Gospel teaches, is that there’s always a chance to turn back to God.


Popular posts from this blog

3rd Sunday of Advent

The third Sunday of Advent marks the midpoint of the season… in Catholic terms, this is like “hump day”, where we happily see that the conclusion of our journey is within sight.  Referred to as Gaudete Sunday, it takes its name from the Latin word for rejoice.  We will hear this word several times throughout this Sunday's Mass in our prayers and our readings.  We light the rose colored candle on our Advent wreaths, rose being a mixture of Advent violet and Christmas white.  Not only is Christmas a joyous occasion to celebrate the birth of our Lord, but it reminds us that we are joyous (not fearful) of his return.

The Word for the 3rd Sunday of Advent Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11
Luke 1:46-48, 49-50, 53-54
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8, 19-28

We open with a great announcement from Third Isaiah, that the anointed brings glad tidings to the poor.  If his words sound familiar, they should.  Not only are they reminiscent to the announcement made by the angels to the shepherd in th…

4th Sunday of Lent

This Sunday we continue our Lenten journey through Salvation History with a continued focus on covenant.  We’ve already given witness to the covenants with Noah, Abraham, and Moses.  This week we turn our attention to the Davidic Covenant (the covenant with King David), or more accurately, the covenant with the monarchy of Israel.

The Word for the 4th Sunday of Lent 2 Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23
Psalms 137:1-2, 3, 4-5, 6
Ephesians 2:4-10
John 3:14-21

Our first reading comes from the end of the 2nd book of Chronicles.  Though our intent this Sunday is to remember the Davidic Covenant, our Lectionary has chosen an interesting approach.  Rather than give us a story about King David, we are presented with a story  from the end of the Babylonian Exile.  Why approach the covenant with David from this tail-end view? 

It’s an approach that actually fits very well with the Book of Chronicles, for you see, the Book of Chronicles is much more than a retelling of the story we heard in books …

Nuns and Nones... continued...

On 6-24-2016 I wrote a brief commentary on what we call the "nones"... that is, those people who check the box that says "none" when asked about their religious affiliation.  That commentary was based on an address by my former high school's principal at their 2016 graduation address.  But this topic of the "nones" returned to my attention with this article posted on our daily Angelus News email from the e-magazine Crux:

Notre Dame debuts digital platform to reach young Catholics, ‘nones’
Please take a moment to read it... 

Of particular interest is the increasing number of "nones," those people who claim no religious affiliation. I first heard this term a few years back from one of the speakers at our LA Religious Education Congress. The term itself grew out of a 2012 Pew Research study that showed this rising trend. Working as I do with the RCIA and Adult Faith Formation, this was a known issue, but the Pew study validated what ma…