From the Pastor – August 18, 2019

New Orleans mass timesJesus 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.  (Lk 12:49-51).

A few years ago, Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI reflected on the Gospel passage we hear this Sunday.  He said:

There’s a passion of ours that must grow from faith, which must be transformed into the fire of charity. Jesus said: I came to cast fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled. Origen has conveyed us a word of the Lord: “Whoever is near me is near the fire.” The Christian must not be lukewarm. The Book of Revelation tells us that this is the greatest danger for a Christian: not that he may say no, but that he may say a very lukewarm yes. This being lukewarm is what discredits Christianity. Faith must become in us flame of love, flame that really fires up my being, becomes the great passion of my being, and so it fires also my neighbor. This is the way of evangelization: “Accéndat ardor proximos,” that truth may become in me charity and charity may light up also the other. Only in this lighting up the other through the flame of our charity, evangelization really grows, the presence of the Gospel, which is no longer just word, but a lived reality.

We live in a world that is not only lukewarm to the Gospel, but even hostile to it.  Jesus is a source of division in the sense that some choose to follow Him, and some choose to reject him.  We see it in our friends, our co-workers and sadly, even in our own families.  What can get them interested in Jesus?  Is it our ability to enunciate the fundamentals of Christian teaching?  Is it our wearing of Christian symbols, like the crucifix?  Is it our celebrating Christian feasts with devotion?  Is it our constant browbeating that people are going to go to Hell for not practicing our faith?  No, it is our love.  You remember the old folk song, “They Will Know We are Christians By Our Love”?  The song might be a little kitschy, but the premise is true.  They love that Jesus has for us and the love we have for Jesus must set us on fire to love others. Our acts of charity toward our friends, our co-workers, our families and the pour ignite the flame of love in us that also fires also our neighbor.  Jesus wants the world to be on fire with love.
(Rev. Msgr.) Christopher H. Nalty