Rom 6:19-23; Ps 1:1-6; Lk 12:49-53
Thank God! Thank God that the LORD watches over the way of the just! Without the constant watchful eyes of the LORD upon us, we would vanish like the way of the wicked. When the eyes of the LORD are upon the wicked, they feel violated and condemned. When the eyes of the LORD are upon the just, they feel loved and affirmed. It is the same fire that purifies our hearts or punishes our hearts. We feel the just judgment of the sun of justice or the healing rays of his dawn from on high. Taking delight in the law of the LORD and meditating upon His Word plants us firmly near a running stream. We are constantly refreshed and renewed in the power of the Word. This enables us to yield fruit and our leaves never fade. We have no fear of failure because the grace of God works out all the details for the glory of God. Indeed, the wind of God’s Breath does not blow us away like chaff, rather it fills us with new life. This is true blessedness. This is the life about which Saint Paul writes to the Roman Christians saying, “…you have been freed from sin and have become slaves of God.” This is the blazing fire that the Lord Jesus has come to set upon the earth. This is the fire of the Holy Spirit that hovers over us each time we celebrate this Eucharist.
Anyone who is rhetorically sensitive will use language in a manner that will enable his listeners to comprehend. In this letter, Saint Paul used the language of slavery. The Romans knew the meaning of slavery. Often it was the result of being a conquered people, it was one of the spoils of war. As a victor, you had complete control over the vanquished peoples. It was expected; it was part of the culture. Their master, lust, ruled the Roman Christians before their conversion. They presented their bodies for use in religious orgies and the like. Temple prostitution was an acceptable part of the temple cult. In the New Temple, the Body of Christ, there is no room for public or personal prostitution. Lust is no longer the master of those who have been immersed in the saving font of baptism. As Christians, the Romans were free to honor and respect the human body, their own included. Such radical freedom comes from being a slave of Christ. He is the new master; no longer is lust their oppressor. They are truly free to live forever. As Saint Paul concludes, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The Lord Jesus has set the world on fire. Every other revolution has resulted only in the restructuring of the external systemic changes in the socio-political structures. The revolution of the Gospel has changed the human race from the inside out, from the heart to the hand. Holy Spirit fire is that divine gift that meets us in the waters of baptism and transforms us here and now and unto the ages of ages! We are baptized into the death of Christ and raised up in the power of his resurrection! This radical remaking of our human nature causes division between those who are reborn and those who have chosen to avoid rebirth at all costs. Such division is evident, all too often, even in families. Among relatives and in-laws, there arises such anguish that it would seem easier to avoid Christ and his Gospel. Indeed, here is the true freedom of the Children of God. Our strength in Christ enables us to bear the burden of division. Being planted in Christ, we have the life-giving streams flowing from his wounded side. Indeed, without the very real burden of division, there is little else to indicate that we are believers. It’s to be expected; it’s part of the culture clash that begins in baptism and doesn’t end until the end of all things.