Thoughts on the Readings for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C) 2019

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. 
http://usccb.org/bible/readings/081819.cfm 

What happened?  I suspect that might be the question on some people’s minds when they read/hear the opening sentence of this Sunday’s Gospel.  “Jesus said to his disciples; “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing.”    Jesus goes on to say:  “Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?  No, I tell you, but rather division.”   He then speaks of the divisions that will result because of him.  When we hear these words I suspect many of us wonder what happened?  Why the change of tone.  Wasn’t it just a few weeks ago that we heard Jesus tell us to love God and our neighbor as ourselves?     

To understand this Sunday’s Gospel we need to remember that in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus is always on his way to Jerusalem.   And it is in Jerusalem that Jesus will face his passion and death.   Chapter 12 is the halfway point in Luke’s Gospel so Jesus is starting to prepare his disciples for these events.   Jesus is not suggesting that his disciples seek out conflicts and division.  Rather he is trying to help us understand that following him might at times put us at odds with or even separate us from others.   Discipleship is not always easy and at times it may even cause division.  

Our first reading this Sunday, from the book of the prophet Jeremiah, shares the theme of the Gospel.  The princes of the people said to King Zedekiah:  “Jeremiah ought to be put to death; he is demoralizing the soldiers who are left in this city and all the people by speaking such things to them; he is not interested in the welfare of our people, but in their ruin.”   Clearly Jeremiah’s words as a prophet had put him at odds with the princes, and because of this they sought his death. 

For our second reading this Sunday we continue to read from the letter to the Hebrews.   In the section we red this weekend the author exhorts the people: “let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us.”   

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
1.  Has there every been a time when you have seen someone give witness to their beliefs even though it has set them at odds with others? 
2.  Has there been a time when your beliefs as a Christian have set you apart from others?
3.  What burdens/sins to you need to rid yourself of in order to “persevere in running the race that lies before us?” 

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