Setting a High Bar

Sunday, August 14, 2022 | By Rev. Michael P. Hanifin

Readings: JER 38:4-6, 8-10; PS 40:2-4,18; HEB 12:1-4; LK 12:49-53

On this Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary time, today’s readings set a high bar for us Christian stewards, reminding us that a stewardship way of life is meant be a challenging way of life.

In the second reading, from the Letter to the Hebrews, we are told to live as Christ lived. And how did Christ live? “For the sake of the joy that lay before Him He endured the cross.” If we are tempted to complain about the sufferings we must endure in living as Christ’s disciples, we are told, “In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.” In other words, “If you’re not bleeding, what are you complaining about?” That is quite a high bar!

The Gospel reading from Luke continues this challenging theme. Our Lord tells His disciples “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing.” A couple of verses later Jesus adds, “Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.”

Jesus’s life on this earth and the message He brought were not meant to simply make us feel good. In fact, His words can make us downright uncomfortable at times. That’s because His Good News (and it is indeed good news!) is meant to change us, to make saints of us.

The stewardship way of life sets a high bar indeed. But deeply embraced, this way of life focused on God and others will make us the saints we are called to be.