In her blog, Sharron Blezard reminds us of both the positive and negative aspects of flame—warmth. glow, comfort or destruction, danger, burns. So when Jesus says he will “set the world aflame”, will it be the positive or the negative? And, of course, it is both. Further, Jesus states specifically how families will fare. He also chides that we see the signs—every day—but do not recognize them. Pairing this gospel with Jeremiah provides yet another use of “flame”.
Jesus said, “. . . 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; . . .” He also said to the crowds, “. . . You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?”
From sermon4kids.com: “One time Jesus said that he was going to be the cause of division among the people. What did he mean? He meant that . . . There would be some who would follow, and others who would not.”
Collect: Almighty God, you have given your only Son to be for us a sacrifice for sin, and also an example of godly life: Give us grace to receive thankfully the fruits of his redeeming work, and to follow daily in the blessed steps of his most holy life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Reflection: How has following Christ caused conflict in your own life or in the life of someone you know?
“Signs” (2002), “meaning of coincidences”; “The Sixth Sense” (1999), psychological thriller; “Double Jeopardy” (1999), “a film that celebrates doing all the wrong things for all the right reasons”
Image: logo for Stanford University forum “When the world is aflame”
Considering the stirring words of the epistle lesson from Hebrews about the great cloud of witnesses, how are we who live in safety, freedom to live as followers of Christ? What do we have to lose? How can we be bolder in our discipleship? What can we do to support others who willingly put themselves in harm’s way (missionaries, for example)? (From Sharron Blezard’s blog)
In today’s liturgy, we are confronted with some of Jesus’ hardest words. As he traveled toward Jerusalem, certain of the great crisis that lay ahead, Jesus set forth the serious nature of discipleship. He referred to his approaching death as his “baptism.” He revealed that faithfulness to God would produce opposition and division.
God’s message to an unfaithful people through the prophet Jeremiah is that his word comes as hard truth. It will lay bare lies and deceit. It demands that those who speak for God speak truth, even though the message may be hard to bear.
In the second reading today, we are assured that regardless of the opposition and division which faithfulness to God may bring, we have hope. That hope is based first on the record of God’s faithful people in the past, but is based above all on the record of Jesus. The “cloud of witnesses” of the past is now joined and led by Jesus “the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.”
As we gather in Eucharist, we are indeed surrounded by the witness of those in ages past whose faith in God led them to hard and tough decisions. In Christ and with each other the joys and the hard disciplines of faith are united. We recall Christ’s death and resurrection and our own incorporation into his dying and rising, which began in us in baptism.
From The Rite Light: Reflections on the Sunday Readings and Seasons of the Church Year. Copyright © 2007 by Michael W. Merriman. Church Publishing Incorporated, New York.