October 22, 2020, Thursday of the 29th Week of Ordinary Time

Scripture: Luke 12:49-53

‘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.’

The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.


      ‘I have a baptism with which to be baptized . . . “

    The reference here to “baptism” in all probability means Jesus’ death. If we were to paraphrase what Jesus says here in today’s terms it could be: “A catastrophe is going to overwhelm me, and how I dread it, until it’s over!”

     I think we can picture Jesus feeling like that. Sometimes we ourselves feel like that when we are hard-pressed by present circumstances or foreseeing an awful something in the not-too-distant future. Certainly I would feel dread if I knew (as Jesus did) I’d undergo a violent death a few weeks or months from now. To put it another way, his passion probably lasted much longer than twenty hours.

    To me, the baptism is the key to the rest of the passage. In light of Jesus’ death, the fire —-although it could refer to God’s judgment —- seems to mean the descent of the Spirit. Jesus was eager that the Spirit come, but he had to pass through his “baptism” first. Then the Spirit could be sent. The divided households would result from people’s acceptance or rejection of Jesus’ identity and mission. Jesus’ suffering would have been increased by the knowledge that not everyone would accept the salvation he wanted to bring.


    Lord, the dread you felt must have almost overpowered you, yet you kept going. When I realize how anxious I become over things which comparatively are much smaller, help me to remember that you have always seen me through my difficulties before. My family members, friends, and coworkers might go in directions other than the Christian path, and while I want to be good to them in every way possible, I also intend to remain faithful to what I believe. Please grant me the balance I need to walk this tightrope.


      Cast your fire into my heart, O Lord.