Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 18, 2019
Have you seen those “photomosaic” pictures of Christ? Hundreds of small pictures of different people making up the face of Christ. Today’s Gospel is much like those contemporary, high-tech portraits; as we listen to Jesus describe the difficult consequences of preaching the Kingdom. He’s come, he says, to set a fire on the earth, to receive a painful baptism, to create division among family members. As the message is preached, those who cannot accept it will find themselves in opposition to Christ.
So how are these troubling words from Jesus like those multi-faceted portraits? Well, as we listen and look to Jesus in today’s Gospel, I believe we’re also seeing the many faces of the early Christians for whom Saint Luke preached and wrote the Gospel. They must have faced persecution from outside—a harsh baptism of fire—and divisions internally, as these first-century followers of Christ tried to put into practice his message.
Can we find our own faces there as well? To preach the gospel will sometimes mean placing ourselves in opposition to prevailing opinion, and even in opposition to values held by our families and friends. We can take some consolation in knowing that other Christians have endured it before us–and more importantly, Jesus himself.