Sunday, August 19, 2007

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jer 38:4-6, 8-10
Heb 12:1-4
Lk 12:49-53

As you may have seen, the United States Marine Corps has a new advertising campaign built around the slogan, “We don’t accept applications, just commitments.” The obvious implication is that being a Marine is not just a job, or something that ends, but a complete way of life, a world view, a way of being that affects everything you do for the rest of your life. The Marine Corps says that there are no ex-Marines, only former Marines. I was not in the Marine Corps, but I have the privilege of knowing several people who are former Marines, and from what I can see this is absolutely true. Service in the Marines informs their entire lives, it is truly a commitment. This kind of commitment has an affect on your relationship with others. No matter what, you are always a Marine. It is a commitment that burns like fire. This kind of total commitment is what Jesus is talking about in the Gospel reading today. Jesus seeks to set the world on fire, on fire with a radical commitment to faith, to belief in God, belief in Jesus, and total commitment to living as a Christian. This commitment should burn like fire, this commitment should be the driving force of your life. Everything you say, do or think should be rooted in this commitment to radically follow Jesus. The problem is not everyone can accept this commitment for themselves, or accept it in others. Jesus did not seek to cause division, he knew, however, the divisions this radical commitment would cause. It will cause divisions, it can bring great pain. One needs only to look at the lives of some saints to see this division brought on by a radical commitment to Christ. When Francis of Assisi committed to radically following Jesus, his father disinherited him. Yet Francis burned with faith, on fire with his commitment to radically follow Jesus. His life demonstrates one of the properties of fire, unchecked it will spread. The fire that burned in Francis may have turned some away, but that fire was caught by others, who began to burn themselves with faith, with the commitment to live for Christ. It is that faith, that commitment, that fire that we are called to. When we burn with faith some will turn away. Some, however, will catch fire and begin to burn as well, spreading the fire of faith and commitment. But it must be on our part a radical change in how we view the world, ourselves and others. Not just an application, but a commitment.

Deacon John
20th Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 19, 2007