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Key words and phrases: I have come, on fire, I must be baptized, anguish until it is accomplished.
To the point: In this Gospel, fire is an image referring to divine judgment. Jesus is clearly stating that He has come to judge the people. His own faithfulness to this task led to His great anguish and ultimately to his passion and death. So will we His faithful disciples be treated? Jesus’ intent here is not primarily to condemn people, but to challenge them to right living according to the covenant established with God. So must this be our intent.
To the First Reading: Jeremiah’s preaching divided the city and incited such opposition that people sought his death. Standing in this prophetic tradition, Jesus, too, preaches a word which divides families and leads ultimately to His death.
To Experience: None of us seeks or desires division and strife, especially among those whom we cherish most. Sometimes, however, the choice is so clear and the values are so important, that we accept division and strife as a consequence of our choice.