I Have Come to Set the Earth on Fire

08-14-2022Weekly ReflectionFr. Manasseh Iorchir, VC

Most times, truth is not popular and those who stand for and live by the truth experience unpleasant encounters with those who choose to resist or reject it. In the First Reading, the Prophet Jeremiah is labeled unpatriotic and considered a traitor for advising Israel to surrender to the Babylonians who had surrounded and technically conquered Jerusalem but were yet to destroy it.

To save the city and its inhabitants, the prophet counseled surrender, but his opinion was unpopular among the king’s advisers who felt he was demoralizing the population. So they got the king’s permission to “cancel” Jeremiah by casting him into the cistern. Fortunately for him, God raised a foreigner called Ebed-melech, a court official, to intercede for him and obtain his release.

Preaching God’s Word and propagating the truth comes at a cost. The person who willfully elects to internalize and practicalize Christian principles should expect a reactionary response from those on the other side. Nevertheless, the truly converted Christian should look towards the example of Christ and the Saints (cloud of witnesses) who lived principled lives in spite of constant and, ultimately, fatal antagonism.

The Second Reading counsels us to imitate the meekness and endurance of Christ in order not to grow weary or lose heart. This ought to be the standard reaction of every Christian to persecution. Jesus speaks of bringing division instead of peace to the world in the Gospel this weekend. His coming in the flesh and the standard He initiates would forever disrupt traditional societal patterns and practices, naturally setting the stage for a confrontation between adherents of standards and traditions opposed to Jesus and disciples of the Divine Redeemer. The former would find the life principles of the latter to be inimical to their interests. It is therefore important for all Christians to know that wholehearted commitment to Jesus may have consequences, some of which may be personal and may even impact their most cherished relationships. Just as truth and falsehood cannot seamlessly cohabit, so should every witness to the Gospel expect repercussions for challenging the structures of sin with their Christ-inspired virtuous living. Peace with everyone is desirable, but every disciple should know that there is a price too high to pay for peace, and that price is infidelity to Christ.

However, no Christian should be discouraged by the seeming, but momentary, triumph of falsehood and vice because truth never fails to achieve ultimate victory. May the example of Christ’s endurance encourage us to selflessly and consistently witness to the Gospel without compromise.

Please be kind and may God bless you.

Fr. Manasseh