Our first reading today speaks of the persecution of the prophet Jeremiah by the Israelites of his time – persecution for standing by, and speaking, the truth that God had revealed to him. Jeremiah’s fidelity to God was first and foremost in his life as it should be in our lives. God gives us our very existence. He is the source of every good gift we have, especially salvation and eternal life through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.
In our second reading from the letter to the Hebrews, the author speaks of the great cloud of witnesses of angels and saints watching us in our spiritual struggles in life. Today we must look to the saints as our spiritual heroes who have showed us how we can remain strong by firmness of faith and unwavering fidelity. We must ask the Holy Spirit to give us the gifts of wisdom, courage and fortitude to remain strong when making decisions that might lead to conflict with others when we follow and speak about Jesus, and our faith in God.
In the Gospel, Jesus tells us “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!”. In this case, Jesus is not talking about destruction but rather about bringing us the gift of the Holy Spirit. John the Baptist had prophesied that, whereas he himself was baptizing with water, the One coming would baptize “with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11). Jesus wants all of us to experience the Holy Spirit, but He also knows our human prejudices get in the way sometimes. Even within our own families.
We can’t rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us if we stay away from Jesus, if we don’t read what He teaches us in the Gospels, and if we don’t come to Him at Mass. Because ONLY in the Mass is Jesus present in His absolute fullness when we are nourished by His Body and Blood in the Eucharist.