Sunday Gospel reflections: The Gospel spirit of fire

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Photo: jaboticaba/iStock

Authentic biblical prophets received a divine call to be messengers and interpreters of the Word of God. Fundamental to their mission was obedience to God’s Word.

This Sunday we encounter the prophet Jeremiah, an outspoken and relentless defender of God’s truth and justice. Jeremiah had been warning the people that their continued infidelity to their covenant with God would result in the destruction of the city of Jerusalem. Jeremiah grew despondent because the people he loved did not listen to his message of woe.

Jesus, like Jeremiah, demands a decision either for or against his message. “I came to bring fire to the earth,” Jesus said, “and how I wish it were already kindled!”

Jesus did not resist hard decisions for fear of not being accepted or liked. He never sought harmony and a middle way in every dispute. Jesus knew that whenever the Holy Spirit of fire came to people through the Word of God, it would ignite division. In some, the Spirit of fire brings about repentance; in others, it provokes anger against the messenger.

Through the Gospel, the Spirit of fire cleanses hearts by faith. When sinners hear and believe that their sins are completely forgiven, the fire of the Spirit, like a burning coal, touches, purifies, and enables people to speak the Word with boldness. 

Who are the prophets among us? What is their message? How does God’s Word bring about division and opposition today?

Living with Christ archives 


Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10

Psalm 40:2, 3, 4, 18

Hebrews 12:1-4


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