The Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
In every age and in every place where the Christian faith has been practiced, tensions and disagreements have inevitably arisen as faith challenged the status quo, called for change, or pointed out injustices. Responding to God’s call to conversion requires openness to his grace to enable that conversion. Becoming a voice for change, speaking out against injustice, requires great courage and trust that the Holy Spirit is at work in such proclamation. Jesus reminds us in today’s gospel that there are costs and consequences to being a witness: “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!” (Luke 12:49). He is not speaking of destruction, but of passion. His suggestion that he would bring about division had to do with passion and commitment, not division and rivalry merely for the sake of division and rivalry.
Archbishop Lori, in a recent address at the Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus, observed how the faith can bring about conversion: “When that spirit of peace which flows through Christ in the Holy Spirit lives in us,” he said, “then we are equipped to lead differently, not so much by the exercise of power but by persuasive attraction of goodness.” This is particularly challenging in our day when civil discourse is too often less than civil. We have to be cautious as we speak, but we can’t simply avoid witnessing to the truth of the gospel simply because it might not be well-received or we might not be respected for it. Freedom of religion means that we have a right to profess our faith and be witnesses to the truth. Let us pray for the Holy Spirit’s gifts of wisdom and courage (working together!) to make us effective witnesses to Jesus Christ.
This past week more than 40 of our middle school youth participated in Camp S*MILE, a week of prayer, reflection, service projects, and fun activities (including a day at Hershey Park). I was happy to see their enthusiasm and their willingness to give of their time to serve those in need, much of it working in the heat of the day, in response to God’s call to give of ourselves. They are a great example and witness to the love of Jesus, and they represented St. Joseph Parish well as witnesses to the gospel. Thanks for a job well done!
Join us this Friday for “Crushes in the Courtyard,” our end-of-summer social event with great food and drink, games and music. I am looking forward to a great time as we catch up with one another about our summer adventures!