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I CAME TO CAST FIRE UPON THE EARTH
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Thursday, 29th Week of the Year, October 23, 2014
Eph. 3:14-21, Ps. 32, Luke 12:49-53


Scripture quotations are from the RSV unless otherwise noted.

 

"I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am constrained until it is accomplished!" (Luke 12:49-50).


Jesus' message is something new. He calls his disciples to commit themselves completely to him, to live for him alone. This call is like a fire that he casts upon the earth. He calls his disciples to lose their life for him in order to save it, and says that those who try to save their life in a worldly way will lose it (Mark 8:35). He calls them to hate their life in this world to preserve it; and says that those who love their life, that is, pamper it with worldly pleasures, will lose it as far as God is concerned (John 12:25).


Jesus calls his disciples to leave everything of this world to follow him (Matt. 19:21), and says that those who leave family and marriage will receive the hundredfold reward (Matt. 19:29 NKJV). He says, moreover, that if we love our family more than him, we are not worthy of him (Matt. 10:37). He even says that we are to hate our family and our own life if we want to be his disciples (Luke 14:26).


Jesus said to a man who wanted to stay at home until he had buried his father, "Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God (Luke 9:60). He even refused to permit a disciple to say goodbye to his family before following him, saying, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:62).


Jesus also said that we must leave everything if we want to obtain the buried treasure (Matt. 13:44), and that we must renounce everything to be his disciple: "So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:33).


This is the fire that Jesus came to cast upon the earth, and that he wishes were already kindled in our hearts. This is a new type of life in this world. It is to live only for God, and to leave all else. Truly, this is a fire. It completely changes our life, our whole way of living. It affects every aspect of our life.


This new way of living in answer to Jesus' call also causes division within the family, for one is even called to leave his family, to choose Jesus, and to love him with an undivided heart. Therefore he says that he came to bring division in the family (Luke 12:51-53), for not everyone will accept to live in such an uncompromising way. Those who accept this new type of life will lose their life in this world, but they will save it with God (Mark 8:35).


All should at least follow the spirit of this call. But there are also those who will accept to live it literally. This is the ideal of the religious, consecrated, and celibate life; that is, complete dedication to God with a heart that is literally undivided. These are the ones who will receive the hundredfold reward (Matt. 19:29 NKJV).

 

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