Daily Reflection
October 26th, 2000
Daniel Hendrickson, S.J.
Philosophy Department
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Ephesians 3:14-21
Psalms 33:1-2, 4-5, 11-12, 18-19
Luke 12:49-53

The western edges of our American Midwest and beyond raged with fire this past season.  The media gave us pictures of its fury and personal testimonies of those fighting for control.  The fires burned their hungry blazes refusing to be satiated and demanding fuel for that fury.  As the flames fed, they grew, multiplying in force and size, fever and strength.  The great horizon of our Great Plains could alone reveal the significant impact of the damage as a diffusion of smoke and soot contaminated the sunrise and sunset alike. 

Jesus speaks to his disciples today with news that doesnít seem Gospel.  Warning of division and strife within our families is hardly good news.  If family is not to be something, itís exactly not what Jesus indicates: split, divided, opposed.  These words from Jesus are disturbing.  This news is unsettling, unattractive, everything we donít want for our families.  If weíve experienced this division, we already know the pain and passion involved. 

Jesus, a self-proclaimed disrupter of family peace in our lives, has come to light a fire on the earth.  We canít deny the challenge of todayís Gospel.  Jesus the man and the Christian Life he exemplified were radical then and are radical now.  As Christians we are called to love generously and unconditionally in a culture not accustomed to selflessness.  Todayís Gospel reminds that our faith embraces certain values and that we are called to live that faith in our daily lives. 

Does Jesus want division in our families?  Absolutely not.  But Jesus wants us to love in ways that are radical and in so doing to spread Godís goodness.  Jesus the fire-starter was not sent to set fires of destruction raging through our families and the lives we live, but he was sent to teach us something about love.  And that is precisely what makes Jesus the fire-starter of this Gospel.  Jesus calls us to love at all costs, and to spread that love beyond the boundaries of our lives, giving reality to the proclamation of todayís psalm: the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.  This goodness is Christian love, manifested at its highest point by Godís sacrificing of his son for our salvation.  It is this Ė Christian love Ė which should spread like wildfire, burning with a fury that refuses to be satiated.  Just as the diffusion of smoke and soot in our Western skies this summer, perhaps this love will contaminate sunrise and sunset alike.

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