Painting: Paul Cézanne, Village Pêcheurs à l'Estaque, 1870
20th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10
Hebrew 12: 1-4
Do you think that I have come to establish peace on earth?
The Story of Fire
Many, many years ago people did not have warm, cozy houses like ours to live in. They lived in caves where it was both dark and cold. Once when a great storm was raging a tree was struck by lightning and the flash set it on fire. It happened to fall near a cave where some of the cave people were hiding. They were frightened at first and huddled in a group. After the storm was over they ventured out to look at the burning tree. One of them took a burning branch and brought it into the cave. They discovered that it made the cave both warm and light. They wanted the fire to keep on burning so they fed it with sticks and dry leaves. From this time on fire became a great blessing to man
Today, the gospel talks about truth. What is the truth? Truth is the origin of everything so it is reality. When reality, for example, the color of a book in front of you is red and your mind understands it as such a thing then it is truth. So it is conformity between reality and the mind. It also connects and has influences on man’s life. Man finds himself when he does the truth. He will have a full life when he lives in and for it. So, human identity is formed by it. It delivers man to freedom and a peaceful heart because it frees and purifies.
The opposite of truth is the fake or the lie. It means there is no conformity between reality and the mind. For example, the color of the dress is black but you say it is red. Then the result is fragmentary and broken order. The man who lives in fake is to represent unfaithfulness. For sure it is like mud that swallows and sinks identity into it. The fake burdens and exhausts the person who lives in it because it creates a distance from a genuine self. Therefore in it, man does not have an identity. Unfortunately, the man likes to create lies and naturally loves the fake even though this love, of course, is love corrupted. To live in a fake or in a lie pulls out the self and then puts in the corrupted life. So, truth is not a thing that is lived easily. Truth demands struggle. In the effort to find the truth, man has to work for it because the obstacles blocking it are huge. The devil manifested in fake wants humans to live in chaos.
The truth in the faith of Christianity is Jesus. He is the truth because he is the son of God who saves and redeems us from sin by his suffering, his death, and his resurrection. This is the unique truth of Jesus that causes him to take his seat at the right of the throne of God. So suffering, death, and resurrection are his majesties that elevate the truth to the highest place. At the same time, the unique truth of Jesus refers also to his baptism which reveals his mission on earth: to bring salvation. So, for this reason, he has come to set fire to the earth and the fire is blazing. His truth is fire because his truth burns sinfulness and his truth contains love and faith. The earth represents worldly life which is full of hatred, indifference, darkness, and coolness. His fire of truth is blazing so that the world becomes more lovable and peace grows everywhere. Nevertheless, His truth brings division because not all will follow the truth, not all will love the truth and will do the truth. That is why it is said that from now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three, a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father. To follow and accept the truth is a matter of choice. Everyone can choose freely what he will do: to do truth or not, to live in truth or not.
The man who has committed to accepting and following the truth of Jesus is given his blazing fire. His fire has been infiltrated and has been turned on in the hearts of his disciples by their baptism. The baptism that we receive is like a burning torch and we hold the truth of Jesus. To be his disciple means to be a witness of truth. Truth represents faith because to do truth you have to possess faith.
Faith and truth are connected to one another. Truth is the mirror of faith because the truth makes our eyes fixed on Jesus -the leader and perfecter of faith-. By faith, God breathes his chosen people with the illumination of truth. Then, the faith confirms and strengthens truth so that we have the courage to proclaim the truth in any condition like the prophet Jeremiah who was very bold to reveal the truth in front of the powerful King Zedekiah. Through faith, our struggle to proclaim truth does not grow weary and does not lose heart. Faith is to be our helper in our struggle for truth because our faith is Jesus, who watches us, hears our cries, helps us, and always be with us. “I have waited, waited for the lord, and he stooped toward me. The Lord heard my cry. You are my help and my deliverer”. Faith perseveres in running the race of truth because, in the middle of anything that claims the truth, faith helps us to be able to distinguish the truth from the false.
Truth in faith demands action. Without it, truth is only a cold which is called a dead fire. Every good action and every charity that we do will be the blazing fire of Jesus on earth. It is the fire of truth on the world when the human mind moves in love, anchors in faith, and clings to the pole of truth. The truth in action carves its splendor and its splendor is spread out to every corner of the earth because of its fire. How I wish it were already blazing!
“All saints give testimony to the truth that without real effort, no one ever wins the crown”
 Ida Wolchock, A Book Of Short Stories, p. 16
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