Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Sunday, August 18, 2019
Today, in Mercy, our readings encourage us, despite obstacles, to deepen our spiritual life.
But sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes we get stuck in habits, illusions, fears, doubts and all kinds of things that paralyze us. And it’s not for lack of trying, but we just can’t seem to break free of what immobilizes us.
On a beautiful summer day years ago, I went clamming with some friends. I had backed the car to the bay’s edge to unload our equipment. I didn’t notice as the tide came in that it was softening the sand around my rear wheels. Later, when I tried to pull out, the wheels just spun. The more I revved, the more they sank. Fortunately, my hearty friends were able to push the car enough to coax it out. But we all learned a lifelong lesson.
Luckily, Jeremiah also had some friends who freed him from the mud. He may have prayed his thanksgiving with the Responsorial Psalm we are given today:
I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him.
In a similar way, Paul evokes the “great cloud of witnesses” surrounding us – friends, both living and dead who model courageous faith for us. Jesus, in particular, “seeing the joy that lay before him” offered such witness by his Life, Death and Resurrection.
In our Gospel, Jesus reaffirms how hard such witnessing can be:
Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?
I have come to set the earth on fire,
and how I wish it were already blazing!
St. Catherine of Siena heard this challenge of Jesus and restated it like this:
Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.
That’s what today’s scripture readings are encouraging us to do. Blessings on our will and effort.
Music: Breakthrough- Chris McClarney