Brothers and sisters:
I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your nature.
For just as you presented the parts of your bodies as slaves to impurity
and to lawlessness for lawlessness,
so now present them as slaves to righteousness for sanctification.
For when you were slaves of sin, you were free from righteousness.
But what profit did you get then
from the things of which you are now ashamed?
For the end of those things is death.
But now that you have been freed from sin and have become slaves of God,
the benefit that you have leads to sanctification,
and its end is eternal life.
For the wages of sin is death,
but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Jesus said to his disciples:
“I have come to set the earth on fire,
and how I wish it were already blazing!
There is a baptism with which I must be baptized,
and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!
Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?
No, I tell you, but rather division.
From now on a household of five will be divided,
three against two and two against three;
a father will be divided against his son
and a son against his father,
a mother against her daughter
and a daughter against her mother,
a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”
Written by: Rev. Anthony Dinh M. Tien, O.P.
I. THEME: Search and live according to the truth.
There are many things that are irrational in life. The most irrational of all is that, instead of recognizing and love those who sacrificed their whole lives to raise, to educate, and to prepare for us; we follow those who always look for opportunities to take advantage of, to poison, and to destroy our future! Why can this irrational thing happen? The reason is the wicked know what people like: pleasure, easy things, and temporal values.
Today readings invite us to think and to reflect in order to recognize who truly love us. In the first reading, St, Paul advised the Roman faithfuls to recognize God’s truth and love by making a comparison: On the one side, God’s enemies always tempt them to become slaves for sin, the result of these temptation are shame, unrest, and a painful death; on the other side, God always loves, instructs, and does everything to bring salvation to them. By sending Christ to the world, He is ready to forgive their sins and to bestow grace so that people have strength to escape slavery for sins and to live righteously according to God’s way. In the Gospel, Jesus revealed his will for men: He brings the fire of love, of truth, and of peace to men; but they must receive them before these can benefit them.
1/ Reading I: Learn to make a comparison and to do God’s will.
St. Paul wanted people to recognize two main things in today reading.
1.1/ Christians have power to overcome sins: Before the coming of Christ, people have no power to overcome sins, though the Law helps people to recognize their sins; but with Christ’s coming, he equips them with his grace to overcome sins. St. Paul explained this fact: “For just as you once yielded your members to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now yield your members to righteousness for sanctification. When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.” If Christ has helped us to overcome sins in order to live righteous, why don’t we take advantage of the opportunity to escape slavery to sins?
1.2/ The results of two ways of lifestyle: To choose wisely, a man needs to recognize the results of his decision. St. Paul helped Christians to recognize the results of these two ways of lifestyle: “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the return you get is sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
(1) The way of sinful lifestyle: “But then what return did you get from the things of which you are now ashamed? The end of those things is death.” When people committed a sin, they feel ashamed with God and others: with God since they disobeyed what He commanded; with others since they violated their right. The most dangerous result of sin is it leads people to death. St. Paul called death is the wage of sin; since when people work, they will be paid correspondly with their work.
(2) The way of righteous lifestyle: This way leads people to become holy and to inherit eternal life. The benefits when people live righteously are they will not be ashamed when they come to God or to others, because they have nothing to hide. The most desired benefit is it helps people to reach the eternal life. St. Paul called the eternal life is given to people by God, through Christ’s merit.
2/ Gospel: Live according to truth and love will help people to have true peace.
2.1/ “I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!” Fire has at least three uses for: to light up, to purify, and to warm up.
– Jesus enlighten all by his words;
– Live according to his word will purify people from all falsity and sins;
– When one feels God’s love for him, he will wipe away all hatredness, division, and jealousy in order to love and to warm up all people.
The fire which Jesus casts upon the earth and desires it to kindle up is God’s truth and love. If people would live according to this fire, they will have a happy life. Jesus continued, “I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am constrained until it is accomplished.” The Baptism Jesus mentioned here is the Baptism in blood, which is his Passion and death. This Baptism is only fulfilled when he dies upon the Cross to show the depth of God’s love for human beings.
2.2/ Did Jesus come to bring division? Jesus’ declaration causes a surprise to many people: “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” Why the God of peace brings division, and not peace?
God’s peace is different with human peace, and God’s way to attain peace is different with human way to attain it. Human peace is not the true peace since it is based on human understanding; and war can break out anytime if there is a conflict of their understandings. God’s peace is based on the truth, and this truth is not changed; therefore, it is the true peace. God’s way to attain peace is not like human way. Jesus ascertains this, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (Jn 14:27). God’s peace is only achieved when one recognizes the truth of the mystery of salvation and God’s love for human beings.
Since God’s truth is different with and above human understanding, so Jesus’ teachings will cause division: some believed in Jesus’ words as his apostles and disciples; some did not believe and oppose him as scribes and Pharisees. They found ways to kill Jesus and his disciples. Same thing happens when God’s words are sowed in a family: some will believe; some will not. The result is their division due to God’s words. If all members of a family believe in his words, then the family will truly have peace. No power can destroy this peace which is based on the truth.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We have a capacity to terminate sins and to follow God’s righteous way. Let us put God’s words in practice and frequently receive God’s power through the sacraments.
– Christ is the source of peace. He comes to reconcile people with God and with one another. Our understanding of the truth and our love for Christ will help us to wipe away all differences and to become one in Christ’s mystical Body.
– Christ has casted his fire of truth and love into the world and desired it to kindle. In order to have this true peace in our family and on earth, everyone of us must co-operate with God by preaching God’s word and by bringing His love to all.