A Fire for Good

October 21, 2021
Thursday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy,  we pray with Psalm 1 which promises that, if we walk in faith, we will prevail against any evil.

Blessed the one who follows not
    the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD
    and meditates on the law day and night.

Psalm 1: 1-3

The passage from Romans and our Gospel preach, in no uncertain terms, that we must choose good over evil.

In our Gospel, Jesus says he has come to set fire on the earth! He says that, because of him, there will not be peace but division, setting households against one another. 

It’s not a comforting Gospel.

And guess what, we don’t live in a comforting world do we? We see human beings set against each other in war, political corruption, economic despoiling, human trafficking, ecological crime and other deeply ingrained systemic abuses.


Pope John Paul II in his encyclical EVANGELIUM VITAE refers to these realities as a “culture of death”.

Some threats come from nature itself, but they are made worse by the culpable indifference and negligence of those who could in some cases remedy them. Others are the result of situations of violence, hatred and conflicting interests, which lead people to attack others through murder, war, slaughter and genocide.

And how can we fail to consider the violence against life done to millions of human beings, especially children, who are forced into poverty, malnutrition and hunger because of an unjust distribution of resources between peoples and between social classes? And what of the violence inherent not only in wars as such but in the scandalous arms trade, which spawns the many armed conflicts which stain our world with blood? What of the spreading of death caused by reckless tampering with the world’s ecological balance, by the criminal spread of drugs, or by the promotion of certain kinds of sexual activity which, besides being morally unacceptable, also involve grave risks to life? It is impossible to catalogue completely the vast array of threats to human life, so many are the forms, whether explicit or hidden, in which they appear today! 


Paul says that, through our Baptism, we are called and strengthened to bear witness against such a culture:

But now that you have been freed from sin and have become slaves of God,
the benefit that you have leads to sanctification,
and its end is eternal life.
For the wages of sin is death,
but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.


Every day, each one of us has the opportunity to stand up for mercy and justice by the choices we make, by the attitudes we affirm, by the values we stand for. But sometimes it’s hard, because it can set us against some of the people around and close to us. That’s when the rubber meets the road!


Poetry: The Onset by Robert Frost

In his poem, Frost is realistic about the onset of winter, at first comparing it to a death of someone who has failed to prevail against evil. But then he places winter in the whole cycle of the seasons and finds hope in the promise of spring.

Always the same, when on a fated night
At last the gathered snow lets down as white
As may be in dark woods, and with a song
It shall not make again all winter long
Of hissing on the yet uncovered ground,
I almost stumble looking up and round,
As one who overtaken by the end
Gives up his errand, and lets death descend
Upon him where he is, with nothing done
To evil, no important triumph won,
More than if life had never been begun.

Yet all the precedent is on my side:
I know that winter death has never tried
The earth but it has failed: the snow may heap
In long storms an undrifted four feet deep
As measured again maple, birch, and oak,
It cannot check the peeper’s silver croak;
And I shall see the snow all go down hill
In water of a slender April rill
That flashes tail through last year’s withered brake
And dead weeds, like a disappearing snake.
Nothing will be left white but here a birch,
And there a clump of houses with a church.


Music: Golden Autumn – Fariborz Lachini

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