Our Gospel today is a difficult one to hear. Jesus tells us that he has come to bring fire to the earth. What is this fire about which Jesus speaks? In biblical times, fire was a sign of God’s presence and also a symbol of purification and, at times, fear and division. Perhaps a fire needs to be ignited in us so that we may respond to the needs of our brothers and sisters and our suffering planet.
Jesus uses powerful language in speaking about how one household will be divided against another and members of the same family will be divided. If we truly live out Gospel values, there are consequences in our lives, both for the present and the future. When we prioritize getting along with others or external peace ahead of faithfulness to the Word, we fail in kindling the fire of the Spirit.
[…]Jesus and Jeremiah suffered for their message of inclusion and solidarity. May we be strengthened in our ability to suffer for the sake of others. May the fire of the Divine Spirit truly be kindled in us so that we may have the courage to more actively work for peace and justice in our communities.” (A Maryknoll Liturgical Year: Reflections on the Readings for Year C, p. 164-165)