Thursday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time
(Ephesians 3:14-21; Luke 12:49-53)
The juxtaposition of the first reading and the gospel today disturbs the spirit. The gentle words from Ephesians about the Christian as rooted in love sound diametrically opposite the jarring gospel where Jesus promises to judge the world with fire. An outsider might wonder if Jesus is a lion or a lamb.
If we have difficulty with the two clusters of images, perhaps we should examine what love is about. It desires not so much the comfort of others as their wholeness. At times it will call for suffering. President Obama describes his mother’s love for him with the story of her getting him out of bed at four in the morning to review his lessons. When he complained, she told him, “This is not a picnic for me either, Buster.”
Jesus’ love for us moves him to die in Jerusalem so that we might experience divine life. Reaching it demands our acceptance which may in turn involve sacrifice of pleasure and even of relationships. But we should never underestimate the value of belonging to God. As the Letter to the Ephesians says, it is “the breadth and length and depth” of happiness.