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Lk 12: 49-53

“I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.


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How will you live your one precious life?

Today’s Gospel has potent language and imagery begging to be explored. Why would the Prince of Peace seek to bring division and cast fire on the earth? How do Jesus’ words sit with you?

Jesus is speaking harshly against our passivity and complacency.  He is issuing a call to action.  He is challenging us to seek what is holy, rather than what is comfortable.  Like the poet Mary Oliver, Jesus asks each of us, “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Division is a good thing if it separates us from disordered affections and unhealthy desires.  Fire, too, can be a positive force if it rouses us from our slumber and causes us to be more fully alive. That’s precisely the response Jesus is trying to elicit.  You have one wild and precious life. How will you choose to live it?

Sarah Otto is on the pastoral team at Ignatius House Jesuit Retreat Center in Atlanta, GA.

 


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Prayer

Holy Spirit, come. Light a fire in our hearts and awaken the dormant places grown passive and complacent. Inspire us to act, to live our faith boldly, and to recommit to justice. Amen.

—Sarah Otto


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