Jesus said to his disciples, “I have come to set the earth on fire.” These startling first words of next Sunday’s Gospel are found only in Luke’s Gospel. They echo the great Hebrew prophet Elijah, who called down fire on the prophets of the false god Baal (1 Kings 18:36ff). Jesus’ message will cause division, Luke wants his readers to know, but disciples must not back down. They must follow the Lord’s lead and judge right from wrong, and then stand for right. Thus there will be persecution — our second reading from Hebrews mentions the early witnesses (martyrs) who gave their lives for the new Christian faith. Expect hostility from state and family to Jesus’ teachings, Luke is saying. Today we also are called to stand up for our beliefs in an increasingly secular society. We might correctly think that means standing against various kinds of evil like abortion, pornography, rampant greed, violence and so on. But I wonder if just believing in God, believing in Jesus Christ, isn’t the first and perhaps most difficult stand we must take today? Religious people are increasingly out of fashion now and gently ridiculed. But belief in God has always been the foundation of morally responsible people and nations. How can we be more fiery about our faith?
– Blog entry by Sister Mary Garascia