We must run with perseverance the race we have entered, with our eyes fixed on Jesus. May the Lord Jesus give you that strength you need and be always with you. R/ And also with you. Introduction
1. I Have Come to Bring Fire
Today the Lord confronts us with the question: How fiery is your love? How fervent is your faith? Can our faith accept contradiction and ridicule without reducing us to silence? Perhaps we are resigned to the evil in us and in the world and do not stand up for what is right and good. If we love the Lord, and people, enough we do not tolerate an easy peace that puts our conscience to sleep. In this eucharist we pray to the Lord for the fire of his Spirit.
2. No Easy Peace
Is there anyone of sound mind who doesn’t want peace? Jesus promised: “I leave you peace; my peace I give you,” and he meant it. Yet today we hear him say: “I am here to bring you not peace but rather division.” Is there not a contradiction here? No, for he simply wants to say: My peace and your peace must not be a guilty peace of compromises with evil. It is a peace that allows itself to be disturbed by injustice and wrongdoing that contradicts our faith. We are here together with the Lord who gave up his own peace to accept even death so that we might be free and happy.
1. I Have Come to Bring Fire
Where is the fire of our love and our faith? Let us examine ourselves before the Lord. (PAUSE) Lord Jesus, you came to bring us your fire: Kindle in us the fire of a courageous faith. Lord, have mercy. R/ Lord, have mercy. Jesus Christ, you came to bring us your fire: Kindle in us the power of a love that commits itself to you and to people. Christ, have mercy. R/ Christ, have mercy. Lord Jesus, you came to bring us your fire: let it wake us up from our indifference and fears. Lord, have mercy. R/ Lord, have mercy. Forgive us, Lord, for we have been lukewarm. Give us the quiet courage to live our faith deeply and to love without hesitation. Lead us to everlasting life. R/ Amen.
2. No Easy Peace
The responsibilities of faith and love at times disturb our easy peace. We ask forgiveness from the Lord that we have not allowed ourselves to be disturbed when needed. (PAUSE) “Do not disturb,” we say, and we silence our conscience. Lord, have mercy. R/ Lord, have mercy. “Do not disturb,” we say, and we close our eyes to the needs of our neighbor. Christ, have mercy. R/ Christ, have mercy. “Do not disturb,” we say, and we tolerate injustice and discrimination. Lord, have mercy. R/ Lord, have mercy. Have mercy on us, Lord, and forgive us our cowardice. Light in us the fire of your Spirit and lead us to everlasting life. R/ Amen.
Let us pray that we may follow Jesus without fear or guilty compromise (PAUSE) God our Father, by his life and death your Son showed us the stony road that leads us to life and love. Let the fire of his Spirit burn in us, that we may reject easy compromises with evil, with guilty, uncommitted peace, and silent complicity in iniquity. Make us honest and straightforward like Jesus, so that with him we may put your will and love above everything else. We ask this through Christ our Lord. R/ Amen.
First Reading: A Prophet Not to Be Silenced
It would have been easy for Jeremiah the prophet to keep silent. But the Spirit made him speak up to the leaders and tell them that they were wrong and that they made him suffer for it.
Reading 1: Jer 38:4-6, 8-10
In those days, the princes said to the king: "Jeremiah ought to be put to death; he is demoralizing the soldiers who are left in this city, and all the people, by speaking such things to them; he is not interested in the welfare of our people, but in their ruin." King Zedekiah answered: "He is in your power"; for the king could do nothing with them. And so they took Jeremiah and threw him into the cistern of Prince Malchiah, which was in the quarters of the guard, letting him down with ropes. There was no water in the cistern, only mud, and Jeremiah sank into the mud.
Ebed-melech, a court official, went there from the palace and said to him: "My lord king, these men have been at fault in all they have done to the prophet Jeremiah, casting him into the cistern. He will die of famine on the spot, for there is no more food in the city." Then the king ordered Ebed-melech the Cushite to take three men along with him, and draw the prophet Jeremiah out of the cistern before he should die.
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 40:2, 3, 4, 18
R. (14b) Lord, come to my aid! I have waited, waited for the LORD, and he stooped toward me. R. Lord, come to my aid! The LORD heard my cry. He drew me out of the pit of destruction, out of the mud of the swamp; he set my feet upon a crag; he made firm my steps. R. Lord, come to my aid! And he put a new song into my mouth, a hymn to our God. Many shall look on in awe and trust in the LORD. R. Lord, come to my aid! Though I am afflicted and poor, yet the LORD thinks of me. You are my help and my deliverer; O my God, hold not back! R. Lord, come to my aid!
Second Reading: Jesus Brings Our Faith to Perfection
Our faith should be strong enough to make us follow Jesus even when the road of life is difficult and our faith is tested.
Reading: 2 Heb 12:1-4
Brothers and sisters: Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God. Consider how he endured such opposition from sinners, in order that you may not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.
Alleluia: Jn 10:27
R. Alleluia, alleluia. My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them, and they follow me. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel: I Have Come to Bring Fire
Faith brings to the disciple of Jesus not an easy peace, but struggle, tension and contradiction, for the disciple has to follow the master on the way of the cross.
Gospel: Lk 12:49-53
Jesus said to his disciples: "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. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law."
Let us ask the Lord Jesus that he may fill his Church and the world with the fire of his love and life. Let us say: R/ Lord, put our hearts afire. – Jesus, set your Church afire with the flame of a deep concern to bring your Good News to all. May the Good News dialogue with the world, and with its aspirations and needs. We pray you: R/ Lord, put our hearts afire. – Jesus, inflame all Christian Churches with a passion to work untiringly toward unity in you. We pray you: R/ Lord, put our hearts afire. – Jesus, inflame the leaders of nations with the fire of seeking justice and peace for our world, and respect for the human dignity of all. We pray you: R/ Lord, put our hearts afire. – Jesus, give the fire of your strength to all who have to pass through the fire of suffering, failure and discrimination, and keep them from discouragement. We pray you: R/ Lord, put our hearts afire. – Jesus, light your fire again in those whose faith has become lukewarm or who have lost the way to you. We pray you: R/ Lord, put our hearts afire. – Lord, inflame our hearts with the fire of your love. Make us recognize and serve you in our neighbor, especially in the poorest. We pray you: R/ Lord, put our hearts afire. Lord Jesus, make our hearts burn with your love as we hear your word and eat from your table, now and for ever. R/ Amen
Prayer over the Gifts
Our God and Father, we bring before you bread and wine, gifts of peace and joy. In our struggles and tensions, may we never buy an easy peace by sacrificing for the sake of our own comfort, the truth and justice demanded by the gospel. May we not fail in the service we owe our neighbor. Nourish our hesitant faith with the body and blood of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. R/ Amen.
Introduction to the Eucharistic Prayer
By his death Jesus paid the price for his fidelity to people and to goodness and truth. Let us offer ourselves with him and ask for his strength, that we may give all praise to the Father.
Invitation to the Lord’s Prayer
In faith and hope we pray to our Father in heaven in the words of Jesus our Lord: R/ Our Father...
Deliver us, Lord, from every evil and grant us peace in our day. Let it not be the easy peace that comes from self-contentment or the lack of involvement, but an interior peace which accepts the struggles of faith and which dares to opt for the challenging way of the loving service of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. R/ For the kingdom...
Invitation to Communion
This is Jesus our Lord, who accepted the cross and disregarded its shame to lead us in our faith. He invites us to his table to inflame us with faith and love. R/ Lord, I am not worthy...
Prayer after Communion
God our Father, your Son has spoken to us his stirring, challenging Word and shared his own strength with us. Send us out to live our faith in all its consequences, and even to be, if necessary, a sign of contradiction, like your Son. But sustain us in faith and give us endurance, that with Jesus your Son we may live in your joy and peace for ever and ever. R/ Amen.
Jesus brought fire on earth to burn with a bright flame. May our living faith be such a fire and such a flame, with the blessing of almighty God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. R/ Amen. Let us go in peace and live our faith. R/ Thanks be to God.
It seems people have an irrepressible tendency towards convenience, seeking what is always easiest; at times, it is also how we approach the Gospel. Similar to when we visit a supermarket and select those things we like the most, we also attend church in the spirit of picking and consuming the things we enjoy. Many times, this is the reason of looking for a church where the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist is appealing because it either has a good choir, the church is nicely decorated, or we like the preaching of the pastor. It is even better if he continually provides our ears with the gift of words that speak of a merciful God, a good father who forgives everything, and whom we can almost say, doesn’t care if we do evil or good since he loves us anyway and we will be rewarded anyhow. We end up designing a religion a la carte, similar to when we visit a nice restaurant and upon our arrival the waiter informs us of the day’s specials so we can choose what we like best. The Gospel isn’t like that. In the gospel we find Jesus speaking to us with clarity. If we want to be saved and attain true happiness, he invites us to follow him and live in a particular manner. He does not promise it will always be easy. If the Lord was nailed to the cross, we can’t expect his followers to have it much better. That is what today’s gospel tells us: “I have come to set the earth on fire.” It does not say he has come to place warm towels on our forehead so we can feel better. No. Jesus seeks to change this world, revolutionize it, and turn it upside down. This is no easy task; it often causes pain and division. Peace will come later. The Kingdom will arrive, but first we must conquer and try hard. To obtain justice we must do battle with injustice. The most important thing in a Christian’s life is not just participating in the Sunday Mass; this is the place where we come together as a community. Where we must work at being Christian is in our daily lives, in our relationships with our family, our co-workers and friends. This is where we must live as Christians; even if it means going against the opinion of others or losing their friendship. Being Christian is not responding to everything we hear with a smile; it is putting forth, with affection but also with determination, the truth of the Gospel. Let us have no fear; remember many have already given and continue to give their blood in defense of our faith. Their testimony should encourage us to live our Christian life in a more radical manner.
Points for Reflection
Have we made our Christian life one that is a la carte? What things do we set aside because we don’t like them or find them to be too demanding? Do we remain silent before friends and relatives in things that are important for our faith?