August 18, 2019

20TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

Live the Good News – Set the World on Fire
Greetings and best wishes to our parish community of St. Philip the Apostle for this 20th Sunday of Ordinary Time during the Church Year. The gospel message from Luke: 12:49-53 is clear, challenging, and thought provoking: “I have come to light a fire on the earth”. Jesus is stirring the message for us today – live a good life, take positive action, and set the world on fire with vision, faith, and truth.

What is the vision for God’s way? God wants wholeness, healing, and salvation for every person, every creature, with all of us living together. The vision of God, then, involves peace and justice for everyone, with opportunities for fullness of life to be enjoyed by all. Simply, this means healing and wholeness is possible whenever needed in our world community. Scriptures use a word for this type of human completeness – “shalom” – this is peace experienced not only as the absence of war, but peace as the fullness of life and love. God wants the world to be this way – move away from the past – start anew. We are familiar with the image of the “wedding feast” with food enough for everyone and joy all around. This is the vision: justice and peace, and fullness of life for every single person.

What is faith for God’s way? Jesus called disciples to follow him. Women as well as men responded and they left their families, homes, jobs, and villages. This is the meaning in the gospel of Luke today: “I have come for division”. The disciples formed a kinship and faith community of sisters and brothers around Jesus. They traveled with him, listened to him, and were taught by him, learning his ways. After Jesus’ death and resurrection, this band of women and men formed the heart of the church. The “split” and “division” from previous family life was about the challenge for the good life – for positive action in a broken world. Jesus showed kindness for the oppressed and marginalized people of his society and did so in many ways. He associated with sinners, offering them forgiveness. He frequently healed the sick, reaching out to touch them. Jesus searched for and embraced those living on the edges of his society, to people suffering physically, spiritually, and socially, giving them the possibility of the joy of God’s arrival.

What is the truth for God’s way? The first words out of Jesus’ mouth in Mark’s gospel proclaim, “The time has come; the kingdom is near. Repent and believe in the good news”. What Jesus is saying is that we do not have to wait until the last day for “shalom” to occur – the time is “now”. God is already near with salvation for all. Think and pray about this for yourself – what are truth and vision for you? Let that break in and start. God is with you. This message is very urgent for the 21st century. There is an enthusiasm about Jesus’ preaching; a sense of anticipation as God approaches to change the “status quo”. What must we do? Turn our hearts around, open up, be converted, and believe the good news. Look at the world – take positive action – set the world on fire with change as an instrument of peace.
Jack Houston

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