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20th Sunday in OT (C)

Setting the earth on fire

By Niobe Rodrigues

LUKE 12:49–53

“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were blazing already!” (Lk 12:49)

This verse brings to mind our shared space—Earth. Jesus came to, by the workings of the Holy Spirit, bring radical change; but what if we look at a different Earth that He would want to set afire.

Luke 12 has Jesus sharing various pieces of advice with His followers. He warns, amongst other things, against the influence of the Pharisees, encourages bravery during persecution, and advises to guard against greed.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that Jesus thought that by now, halfway through the gospel, people would have understood His purpose and from where He was coming.

Jesus, being God in human form, must have been frustrated. He knew what he was capable of as the divine but was limited by His humanity. To put it in short, Jesus may have wished that His work here was already complete so that the Holy Spirit could empower the people to go out and take His mission further.

We might say, what was the hurry for Jesus? Yet, do we not experience the same things? Do we not feel the same frustrations of not being where we want to be: physically, financially, mentally, and spiritually?

Whether we like to admit it or not, we all have our pet sins that we struggle with. Sometimes, we feel that we have achieved a place where we have overcome, then along comes a little tiredness, a little anxiety, a little temptation, and we succumb.

After we give in, does it show whether we are ablaze for Christ? Do we beat up on ourselves and think, “I should be better than this? At this age, I should have overcome this. I should have more self-control by now. After all these years, I should know better than to pick it up.”

If these are our thoughts, then it is no wonder that we fail. Where is God in our thinking? Are we looking to, or for, the author and perfecter of our faith? Have we resisted our sin to the point of shedding blood? It is likely that the answer is ‘no’.

We look at our Earth, our dust and our flesh and believe that we are the ones who can breathe life into it. We are the ones who can rescue ourselves. We are the ones who can set it ablaze. We aim to purify ourselves. This is unlikely to work which is why we have the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Fr Mike Schmitz spoke of our self-frustration leading to an avoidance of Confession here: It seems that he was speaking directly to me.

The cure is to separate ourselves from childish behaviours of avoidance and denial like the son, the daughter and daughter-in-law. Within the household of our hearts, we must mature into the acceptance and honesty of parents—the father, the mother, the mother-in-law.

This will only be accomplished when we allow the fire of the Holy Spirit to blaze through our earthly hearts and minds.



Lord, instead of us focusing on the earthly let us fix our minds and hearts on the heavenly. May the fire of Your Spirit burn out our childishness and reveal a mature, committed Christian. We look forward to Your fire, Lord. Amen


Niobe Rodrigues is a Sign Language Interpreter, a skill she developed whilst working with the Touch of Christ Catholic Deaf Community. She is a wife, mother of three boys and a parishioner and catechist at St Joseph’s RC Church in Mayo.