#readings 20151023

The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2014, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net

Do you want to be on fire for God? Jesus shocked his disciples when he declared that he would cast fire and cause division rather than peace upon the earth. What kind of fire did Jesus have in mind here?

The fire of God’s purifying love and cleansing word The image of fire in biblical times was often associated with God and with his action in the world and in the lives of his people. God sometimes manifested his presence by use of fire, such as the burning bush which was not consumed when God spoke to Moses (Exodus 3:2). The image of fire was also used to symbolize God’s glory (Ezekiel 1:4, 13), his protective presence (2 Kings 6:17), his holiness (Deuteronomy 4:24), righteous judgment (Zechariah 13:9), and his wrath against sin (Isaiah 66:15-16). It is also used of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11 and Acts 2:3). God’s fire both purifies and cleanses, and it inspires a reverent fear of God and of his transforming word in us.

Jesus’ sharp statement that he would cause division rather than peace within families must have shocked his disciples.Was he exaggerating? Jesus used a typical Hebrew hyperbole [a figure of speech which uses exaggeration for emphasis] to drive home an important lesson. We often do the same when we want to emphasize something very strongly. Jesus’ hyperbole, however, did contain a real warning that the Gospel message does have consequences for our lives. It has the power to heal, restore, and unite those who believe its message. But the consequence of ignoring or rejecting the Gospel can lead to many hurtful desires and seduction by the world.

Our first loyalty is to the Lord who made us and who redeems us When Jesus spoke about division he likely had in mind the prophecy of Micah: a man’s enemies are the men of his own household (Micah 7:6). The essence of Christianity is loyalty to Jesus Christ – the Son of God and Savior of the world – a loyalty that takes precedence over every other relationship. The love of God compels us to choose who will be first in our lives. To place any relationship (or anything else) above God is a form of idolatry.

Who do you love first and foremost? Jesus challenges his disciples to examine who they love first and foremost. A true disciple loves God above all else and is willing to forsake all for Jesus Christ. Jesus insists that his disciples give him the loyalty which is only due to God, a loyalty which is higher than spouse or kin. It is possible that family and friends can become our enemies if the thought of them keeps us from doing what we know God wants us to do. Does the love of Jesus Christ compel you to put God first in all you do (2 Corinthians 5:14)? “Lord Jesus, may your love consume me and transform my life that I may truly desire nothing more than life with you. Make me strong in love and fidelity that nothing may hinder me from doing your will.”

The following reflection is courtesy of PresentationMinistries.com (c) 2014. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com  

FOCUS ON THE FAMILY  
“I kneel before the Father from Whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name.” —Ephesians 3:14-15   Jesus has “come to light a fire on the earth” (Lk 12:49). He begins this by dismantling families held together by factors not according to His will (see Lk 12:51ff). For example, many marriages and families stay together because of fears, addictions, finances, or confusion. Under such circumstances, these families will never be what God wants them to be. Therefore, Jesus will dismantle these families and then reunite them in love, self-sacrifice, holiness, and peace. In this way, He will light a fire to purify and renew the face of the earth (see Ps 104:30).

Do you have mixed motives in your relations with your family members? Is your family staying together in pure love, or are there other factors? Cooperate with Jesus as He picks apart any sins, selfishness, or self-deception in your family. Then ask Jesus to give to your family:
“gifts in keeping with the riches of His glory” (Eph 3:16),
interior strength “through the working of His Spirit” (Eph 3:16),
His indwelling (Eph 3:17), and
charity as its “root and foundation” (Eph 3:17).

After being dismantled and re-assembled by Jesus, you and your family “will be able to grasp fully, with all the holy ones, the breadth and length and height and depth of Christ’s love, and experience this love which surpasses all knowledge, so that you may attain to the fullness of God Himself” (Eph 3:18-19).  

Prayer: Father, make our families holy by Your standards. Promise: “To Him Whose power now at work in us can do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine — to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations, world without end. Amen.” —Eph 3:20-21 Praise: St. John was governor of his city. He was captured and imprisoned during a battle. While in prison, he gave his life to Jesus, and when released, he became a priest.     

Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant my permission to publish One Bread, One Body covering the period from October 1, 2014 through November 30, 2014.†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, April 24, 2014.  The rescript is a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free of doctrinal or moral error. It is not implied that those who have granted ecclesial permission agree with the contents, opinions, or statements

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