20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday, August 18, 2019
Fr. Kyle
Homily transcription: 

8-18-19 (Fire of Love)

Today’s readings are hard and challenging.  The easy thing would be for me to just run from and ignore preaching about these tough readings.  But you deserve better than that.  So fair warning, I’m not going to sugar coat it for you. 

Jesus says he wants to set the earth on fire.  He wishes that the world was already blazing with his love.  Now here’s the rub.  Love does not always look like what we see on the hallmark channel (although I do love those cheesy movies).  Love often hurts.  Or as Mother Teresa says, “Love always hurts”.  The fire of love that burns in us as Christians is bright and blazing but it also sometimes burns.  Being a Christian means that we are daring enough to let our hearts burn with Christ’s love even if that means we get burnt.  Jesus did not hide the fact that love sometimes hurts.  Just look at the cross.  It was at this moment that the fullness of divine love was revealed and Christ’s heart was burning out of love for you and me.  But the beauty of this love did not take away the pain of the nails in his hands and feet.  And the pain he experienced did not diminish the intensity of his love for us.  But it is tempting for us to try and avoid this pain and so we extinguish or dim the fire of love in our heart so we don’t get burnt.

Let me give you and example in my life.  I love my mom.  But my mom is not much of a church goer.  I have a couple choices of how to respond to this situation.  I could just ignore it and pretend like it’s not that big of a deal.  But I love my mom and my heart burns for her to know the joy of Christ.  So, every time we talk about her struggle with faith and going to Church, it burns and hurts a little to know of that struggle.  And that is okay. 

It is okay that we experience pain and are burnt sometimes because of the fire of our love.  Now this does not mean that we begin to obsess over these things and despair.  Because love is not an obsession of the mind that drives us crazy.  Love is a fire that burns in the heart.  And while we could agonize about all the people we love and all the people in the world that we long to know about the joy of Christ, true love begins just one person at a time.  It begins with coworker we know is going through a difficult time.  It begins with our family member that we had a falling out with and have just ignored for years.  It begins with the person in our dorm who doesn’t know Christ.  It begins with the person in our neighborhood who has fallen away from the Church. 

When we encounter these people one at a time, we have a choice.  We could just ignore the situation and pretend like it’s not a big deal.  But if our hearts are on fire with the love that Christ speaks of in today’s gospel then we should desire all to know the joy of Christ.  Jesus’ teaching in the gospel is challenging.  But he speaks very candidly about wanting to set the whole world on fire.  May we be willing to live with hearts on fire so that we may set the world on fire with the love of Christ, even if it means that we may get burnt.