Thursday, October 21, 2010


October 20, 2010
Thursday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” Luke 12:49-51

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that he may grant you in accord with the riches of his glory to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones 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 is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine, by the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:14-21

If we ever needed St. Paul’s prayer for understanding God in Ephesians, today is the day. Everywhere Jesus walked, he greeted people with words of peace. He told his friends to greet others in peace when he set the apostles out on their mission. When he greeted them after the resurrection in the Upper Room, he said, “Peace be with you” even though he knew there was fear in their hearts. Jesus was the “peace-be-with-you” kind of a guy.

So what do we make of the Gospel?

Fire for us is a terrible thing. Fire comes after attack as we saw on September 11, 2001. Fire destroys lives and homes in California and the west when it goes wild at various times throughout the year. However, fire also is a purifying ritual in the Bible. Fire refines. Fire separates. Fire purges.

If left to our own free will (mixed with a generous portion of temptation from the world), we will never be ready for God’s mission he has envisioned for us. Jesus wants to separate us from any distractions, possessions and diversions which will keep us from that mission.

When we accept this work on earth, we may not be greeted with universal acceptance. People will wonder what we are doing, why we are doing it and why this work matters so much. Even our own families may not understand the direction in which we are led by Jesus’ message.

We see the first true example of this division in our Holy Week rituals and Mass. From the triumph of Jerusalem to the triumph over death on Calvary, Jesus’ own friends, family and neighbors are scattered for fear of death. They run away. They put him on trial and as he hangs on the cross, only a very few are there with him to the bitter yet so sweet new beginning.

As we approach an election less than two weeks away, it is easy to allow the media and our own personal opinions to divide us. Red states. Blue states. Purple states. Striped states. Republican. Democrat. Tea Party. Coffee Party. Jack Daniels Party. Whatever.

Yet in Christ we can be, and are indeed, united. As Paul prayed, we are united in our connection back to the same God who loves us all. He loves us so we can be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self. He loves us so we may know that His son, our friend and brother Jesus dwells in our hearts through faith rooted and grounded in love (action).

Make our unity in Christ’s love be foremost in your minds and hearts for the next two weeks and always. There is always room for informed debates on policy. Yet there is never room to destroy or hate others just because they disagree with you.

People go to the gym, county recreation center, Lifetime Fitness or our basement to work out our muscles and build up strength before we go out into the world. Before we can work on our mission for God the world, we need to work on our inner muscles as well. Paul prayed for strength through the Spirit for our inner selves. Put on your calendar time every day to work on both your physical strength and your inner strength so you can be prepared to tackle the divisive road ahead with love for all.

Hang your hatred on a tree and put your love into action.