Dear Friend of Carmel Mission,
Jesus’ opening line in this Gospel may strike an alarming note for us residents of California. We are all too familiar with the destructive power of wildfires and the havoc they can cause. But the fire Jesus is referring to is a purifying, not a devastating, force. Jesus is on fire with a wild love for the world. He cannot wait for this love to catch fire in all people and bring about the Kingdom of Heaven. Earlier in Luke’s gospel (3:16-17), Jesus’ precursor, John the Baptist, spoke of a baptism that would be greater than his purificatory rite: a baptism with the fire of the Holy Spirit that the Messiah would enkindle. Now we hear from the Messiah Himself, who is preparing His disciples for the path they will follow, one which may drive them into conflict, even with their own families.
It is rare for Jesus to speak of Himself in the first person in the Synoptic Gospels. Here it is an indication of the urgency He wishes to communicate to His listeners. Today’s Gospel message is, at first glance, a shocking one from the Prince of Peace. But the peace Jesus promises, and the division that may be part of the journey to that peace, are not necessarily incompatible. The adult Jesus who is speaking to us was the child whose birth was announced as heralding peace (Luke 2:14) but was also recognized by Simeon as a source of division (Luke 2:34). Jesus’ peace is not a comfortable acceptance of the status quo that avoids conflict. It is a burning decisiveness with uncompromising love at its center. We may ourselves be singed with others’ derision for our discipleship, even those closest to us.
Please take a moment to read our Carmel Mission Weekly Bulletin.