Lectionary Reflections: Twentieth Sunday of Ordinary Time [c] August 18,2013

Engaging Faith | Wed, Aug 14, 2013

By John Buckie, SJ
Source: Center of Concern

Lectionary Reflections for the Twentieth Sunday of Ordinary Time, August 18,2013


Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10

Hebrews 12:1-4

Luke 12:49-53



August 15: Feast of the Assumption of Mary

August 23: International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and Its Abolition

August 26:  Women’s Equality Day in the United States, commemorating the 1920 passage of the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote.



“The day will come when, after harnessing space, the winds, the tides and gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, we shall have discovered fire.”    

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin


“The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a message of freedom and a force for liberation. In recent years, this essential truth has become the object of reflection for theologians, with a new kind of attention which is itself full of promise.”

Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 

Instruction on Certain Aspects of the "Theology of Liberation"


“True freedom, freedom worthy of the sons of God, is that freedom which most truly safeguards the dignity of the human person. It is stronger than any violence or injustice. Such is the freedom which has always been desired by the Church, and which she holds most dear. It is the sort of freedom which the Apostles resolutely claimed for themselves. The apologists defended it in their writings; thousands of martyrs consecrated it with their blood.”

Pope Leo XIII, encyclical letter "Libertas praestantissimum”

“I know that you don’t want to be duped by a false freedom, always at the beck and call of momentary fashions and fads. I know that you are aiming high, at long-lasting decisions which are meaningful. 

Pope Francis, July 27, 2013


Sharing the experience of faith, bearing witness to the faith, proclaiming the Gospel: this is a command that the Lord entrusts to the whole Church, and that includes you; but it is a command that is born not from a desire for domination, from the desire for power, but from the force of love, from the fact that Jesus first came into our midst and did not give us just a part of himself, but he gave us the whole of himself, he gave his life in order to save us and to show us the love and mercy of God. Jesus does not treat us as slaves, but as people who are free, as friends, as brothers and sisters; and he not only sends us, he accompanies us, he is always beside us in our mission of love. 

Pope Francis, July 28, 2013

Thoughts for your consideration

Good religion is about being on fire and about liberation. 

It is about putting people on fire about life and love and service.

It is about setting people free.

Religious faith should be something that is exciting and energizing. 

It puts us on fire and sets us free.


It involves risks and sometimes even causes tension and division. 

The message that Jeremiah proclaims is supported by some and attacked by others. 

His own person is attacked by some and yet saved by others. 

Some people throw him into the cistern; others get him out.  

The message causes division. 


The message of Jesus also causes division.  

Not all are able to accept it – even within the same family. 

We also may struggle with it and resist it from time to time.  

Ultimately, it should lead us to freedom and life.

Ultimately, we should end up on fire even in the midst of opposition.

The message has power. It is worth the risk.


Good religion does not put people to sleep.

Rather, good religion wakes people up and helps them be on fire.

People become aware of life, aware of others, aware of God, aware of the poor, aware of injustice, aware of the problems, aware of the possibilities, aware of a new vision.

Good religion leads people to awareness, and puts them on fire – on fire with love, filled with life, energized for service and solidarity.


Religion must not be an empty ritual. Our religion thus calls us to get into action – to speak up for justice, to serve the poor and all who are in need, to be aware of the struggles of the world, to work for the liberation of the oppressed, to relax in a deep trust in God, to include all people in our circle of community, to be a light to the world in the midst of darkness, to set people free, to proclaim justice for all, to be on fire with faith, hope, and love, 


This calls to mind the words of Pope Francis at the recent World Youth Day in Brazil: “Young people, please: don’t put yourselves at the tail end of history. Be active members! Go on the offensive! Play down the field, build a better world, a world of brothers and sisters, a world of justice, of love, of peace, of fraternity, of solidarity. Play always on the offensive!”


Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

When have you found yourself graced with courage? 

When have you been able to show great strength of conviction in the midst of opposition?  

When have you really be on fire with your faith?


When have the scriptures changed you and set you on fire?

When has “being in church” changed you and set you on fire?


Stories for Reflection

“Why not become fire?” Taken from various sources and used by Sister Joan Chittister at  

There is an ancient story of the Desert Fathers' tradition about the advice Father Lot gave to his disciple Father Joseph. Father Joseph came to Father Lot and said to him, "Father, according to my strength I keep a moderate rule of prayer and fasting, quiet and meditation, and as far as I can I control my imagination; what more must I do?" And the old man rose and held his hands toward the sky so that his fingers became like flames of fire, and he said, "If you will, why not become totally fire?"

Without Fear taken from

During the civil wars in feudal Japan, an invading army would quickly sweep into a town and take control. In one particular village, everyone fled just before the army arrived - everyone except the Zen master. Curious about this old fellow, the general went to the temple to see for himself what kind of man this master was. When he wasn't treated with the deference and submissiveness to which he was accustomed, the general burst into anger. "You fool," he shouted as he reached for his sword, "don't you realize you are standing before a man who could run you through without blinking an eye!" But despite the threat, the master seemed unmoved. "And do you realize," the master replied calmly, "that you are standing before a man who can be run through without blinking an eye?"  


Actions - Links

Ask your senators to join Tim Kaine (VA) and Martin Heinrich (NM) in cosponsoring Senator Dianne Feinstein’s (CA) S. Res. 203 expressing “the sense of the Senate regarding efforts by the United States to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a negotiated two-state solution.”


World Wildlife Federation

Speak up on conservation issues.


Prayers of Intercession

Response:  Lord, set us on fire with compassion for all.

For all of us, that we may have the grace to listen to one another and to learn from one another, we pray…

For all of us, that we may have the courage to speak up for justice, we pray…

For our nation, that we may be open and alive to needs of the poor, we pray…

For our world, that we may be open to a new way of peace and nonviolence, we pray…

For our church, that we may be open to a faith that welcomes all people of good will, we pray…



Let us pray to the One who holds us in the hollow of His hands, 

To the One who holds us in the curve of Her arms, 

To the One whose flesh is the flesh of hills and hummingbirds and angleworms, 

Whose skin is the color of an old black woman and a young white man; 

and the color of the leopard and the grizzly bear and the green grass snake, 

Whose hair is like the aurora borealis, rainbows, nebulae, waterfalls, and a spider's web, 

Whose eyes sometime shine like the Evening Star,

and then like fireflies, and then again like an open wound, 

Whose touch is both the touch of life and the touch of death, 

And whose name is everyone's, but mostly mine. 

And what shall we pray? Let us say, “thank you.”

                                                                            - Max Coots, Minister Emeritus of the Canton, N.Y., Unitarian Universalist Church