TO SET THE WORLD ABLAZE
My dear friends and followers of the Way, allow me to share with you some of my reflections on the gospel reading this Sunday. The gospel reading is taken from Luke 12:49-53. Jesus said, to quote a verse from the passage,
“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 earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.”
People who are not familiar with the way Jesus taught will wonder why our Lord spoke to us in parables and riddles. Some of these parables seem paradoxical. If we read the passage above, it would give us the impression that Christ was promoting violence. But far from it, Jesus is the prince of peace. Matthew Henry’s commentary on this passage helped me understand the meaning of this text. The teachings of Christ and His message is about love, deliverance and redemption and there is a need for the gospel to be preached around the world. But he said that this process would bring division. Why division instead of unity? The answer is simple, - the gospel of Christ or His message is about the goodness of God, his redemptive plan for humankind. But not all humans can accept the teachings of Christ nor the offer of salvation and redemption, because of the sins of pride and lusts. Thus some people may find the grace to believe in the teachings of Christ but perhaps others may not. Hence there will be division. Why was Christ anxious that it be accomplished? Here Christ spoke of his baptism, meaning his death on the cross. His death on the cross will seal the ultimate plan of God for the redemption of humankind. Once this is accomplished, then the gospel will be preached worldwide and it will set the earth ablaze (figuratively). This is because, the message of Christianity is revolutionary. It aims to subvert and undermine the values of this world, its sins, its pride and way of life. Thus in this dark world, as Christians we are supposed to be the light of the world. In a world that has lost love and compassion we are supposed to be the salt of the earth, to give it flavor. Are we ready to set the world ablaze with the message of Christ? The challenged is there for the taking.