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Living in the Tension
Twentieth Sunday In Ordinary Time
“I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and what constraint I am under until it is completed! Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, grant that I may know you, so as to love you more and follow you faithfully.
- “I Come to Bring Fire”: With what passion and tone Jesus spoke his desire! In this brief expression he revealed his clarity about the mission and his interior impulse to fulfill that desire. We can sense the love he has for the Father’s will. He knew what he had come to do, and the only tension that existed was in not having fulfilled it completely. We feel spiritual tension also at times. Is ours a tension born from our desire to fulfill the purpose for which we are created? Is it a tension that fights our ego and resists the lure of the material world? We can ask the Lord to allow the Father’s will to burn in our hearts.
- “Do Not Suppose That I Am Here to Bring Peace on Earth”: This is such a confusing statement by Our Lord! He is the Prince of Peace, after all. There is no contradiction in Jesus. He is not only the Prince of Peace, but he is the Way, Truth, and Life. By his very presence he calls us to choose who we will follow. Our internal compass can be pointing straight to him while all around us we continue to battle distractions that pull us in a different direction. Jesus knows what is at stake—eternal life. He asks us to be clear about who we will follow, no matter what the cost.
- True Peace—Authenticity: Let us ask the Holy Spirit for light to see if the interior orientation of our heart and the basis of our intentions, decisions, and actions are in accord with what is burning in Jesus’ heart—the fulfillment of the Father’s will for his glorification. Let us seek clarity to discern interior conflicts that may reveal resistance towards the love that our heart is made for. Let us ask for fortitude, aware that the only tension worth suffering is the one fought to be in union with the Lord.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, set my heart ablaze like your own, with a love for the Father’s will that is willing to lay down my life out of love.
Resolution: Lord, today I will be attentive to any interior tensions I experience and ask for light to see if it is a tension worth living. I will resolve to resist and deject the enemy’s attempt to turn me to egocentric tendencies.
For Further Reflection: Discernment of Spirits, Rule 12.
Jennifer Ristine is a consecrated woman of Regnum Christi dedicated to spiritual and faith formation through teaching, conferences, writing, and spiritual direction. While serving in Ancient Magdala she wrote Mary Magdalene: Insights from Ancient Magdala and “Nine Days with Mary Magdalene.”