20th Sunday of the Ordinary Time
1st Reading: Jeremiah 38:4–6, 8–10
In those days, the princes said to the king: “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.” King Zedekiah answered: “He is in your power”; for the king could do nothing with them. And so, they took Jeremiah and threw him into the cistern of Prince Malchiah, which was in the quarters of the guard, letting him down with ropes. There was no water in the cistern, only mud, and Jeremiah sank into the mud. Ebed-melech, a court official, went there from the palace and said to him: “My lord king, these men have been at fault in all they have done to the prophet Jeremiah, casting him into the cistern. He will die of famine on the spot, for there is no more food in the city.” Then the king ordered Ebed-melech the Cushite to take three men along with him, and draw the prophet Jeremiah out of the cistern before he should die.
2nd Reading: Hebrews 12:1–4
Brothers and sisters: Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God. Consider how he endured such opposition from sinners, in order that you may not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.
Gospel: Luke 12:49–53
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.”
THE CHOICE: The choice of following God demands courage and bravery. Jeremiah is thrown in a cistern for the prince thinks that he is discouraging the soldiers left. Despite Jeremiah’s life being in danger, he is not giving up and he is ready to die for his choice. This made the king to save him from the cistern. Many are the times in life that we are in danger because of our choice. For instance, political election time in some African countries is a very tense time for most of the African families. It is a time when a lot of domestic violence cases are reported, and more sadly, separation of spouses also does occur. The reason behind domestic violence and separation of spouses is a choice of which political candidate one should vote for. If one spouse decides to vote for a candidate from one party and the other decides to vote for a different party, quarrelling begins. Quarrelling can then lead to division and sometimes violence and finally separation. Being a disciple of Jesus in a household which most of its members are non-Christian believers is like being in a family during the political election time. One must have a strong faith in Christ to remain on his side come what may. Being a disciple of Christ means no matter what happens one will not abandon Christ, will not abandon the Christian faith. Remaining on the side of Jesus Christ can cause division in the family and sometimes a Christian believer might be thrown out of the family or a household (Luke 12:51-53). Remaining a Christian even amidst opposition and persecution is a wise choice.
Prayer: May all those who profess the Christian faith never separate from you Lord.
EITHER FOR OR AGAINST CHRIST: When we accepted to be followers of Jesus, we resolved to let Christ refine and purify our lives. It means to remove all that which is unpleasing in God’s sight. It is to come clear in God’s sight. We refine our lives by making them to be Christ like, and by making ourselves a sign of Christ’s presence among others. This involves being ready to stand for Christ in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. Standing for Christ has its consequences arising from the community and family (Luke 12:49-53). Those who do not support us might even begin to persecute us. We do not let the evil one take control of our mind. We should neither try to take revenge nor to condemn, but pray to God to help us remain on the side of Christ. We are for Christ when our thoughts and actions are in line with the teachings of the Lord. We are against Christ when we harbor impure thoughts, like revenge, retaliation, and hatred in our mind. Our response during trials in being a follower of Christ determines whether we are for or against Christ.