20th Sunday of Ordinary Time
In the gospel today Jesus says, “I have come to set the world on fire and how I wish it were already blazing.” He is ready and willing to face the hardships that lie ahead. Jesus’ words must have unsettled his hearers then, as they do now for us. It doesn’t sound like Jesus meant that the practice of our faith should make us comfortable, guarantee harmony or tranquility. Indeed, as he predicted, belief in him would cause the most severe conflict, even in the close-knit-family world of his Mediterranean followers.
Jesus is zealous about his mission; it consumes him. He has a task to complete and will follow it through, despite the threats to his personal safety. Jesus refers to his fate as “a baptism with which I must be baptized.” He sees his coming passion as a baptism which he will accept and which will set a fire upon the earth. Remember when John the Baptist spoke of Jesus he linked baptism and fire, “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” When our lives get difficult, for any reason perhaps running low on the resources of spirit, mind and psyche at critical moments,
we are tempted to think that the Holy One is asleep behind a closed door. We feel very much on the outside. At these times it’s important to remember that Jesus is with us throughout the turmoil we may have as a result of the hurts and hardship that life throws out to all of us on many occasions.
The saying goes that life is forever changing and this is very true as this week we heard of changes in the priests in some of our local parishes in North Belfast. August is a time for change and a time of change for this and other Parishes and the Clergy within the diocese of Down and Connor. It is also a time of change with our P7 school kids changing schools and going into secondary or grammar schools and our year 14s going on beyond that to begin university as they continue their education and the journey of life.
Making decisions in the journeys of life is the natural process for us; we make many of them each day. Our senses take in all kinds of information some of which we accept, some we discard and much, we are not aware of. Our minds move us to a yes or no that is what the will does. So our imaginations can present data to our minds for a choice as well. So a faith-decision to walk the ways of Jesus needs some information which Jesus gives his disciples, that is formally handed on down to us in the liturgy through our Priests. But we also learn from our fellow parishioners, our own times of prayer and those flashes of God-given inspiration – and these can come in places of pilgrimage or simply as we walk down the road. The Spirit of God blows where it wills.