Practicing Catholic in a Fractured World

As  a practicing Catholic, you live in a world that is fractured in so many ways. It’s difficult to remain devoted to Christ and remain “on track” when we face so many diversions, distractions and demons.

Yes, the 21st Century is a challenging time for a practicing Catholic.
But the world was also a very challenging place two thousand years ago.

In today’s Gospel (Luke 12:49-53), Jesus tells his disciples “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!” and then follows up that doozy with another “…do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?  No, I tell you, but rather division.”

Ummm, hold the phone… did He say “setting the earth on fire” and “division”?
I thought Jesus was all about “love one another”?

The “take-away” from this message is: look, buddy, if you want to be a “practicing Catholic” and follow Jesus, be prepared to face some resistance, and some division.  We live in a fractured, splintered world.

Be Prepared: Practing Catholic

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Not everyone will be accepting of your beliefs. Which should also drive another message to you: a practicing Catholic may face a bumpy road along the way to heaven. Will you worry more about pleasing others around you?  Will you be prepared for dealing with your own personal demons?  What about facing your own distractions and the tests of temptations, and letting  “life” getting in the way for a practicing Catholic?

Yes, Jesus came to walk among us, in an effort to change the world.  And to a certain extent, He succeeded.  The Christian population, and ultimately the Catholic Church emerged from this time.  But was Jesus just crash-landing here to start a new church?

Hardly. He created a “division” that exists to this day for a practicing Catholic.  Not an evil kind of division, but an alternative.  Think about what the world Jesus parachuted into: two thousand years ago, following the words of Jesus was an alternative to the many gods all the different tribes and families idolized.  And He provided an alternative to the “an eye for an eye” approach, by suggesting, hey, maybe we should try to love another instead.  You know, treat your neighbor as you wan to be treated.

And here we are, two thousand years later: idolatry, giving false prophets attention and demons (like the love of money) curse the world to this day.  A practicing Catholic fifteen hundred years ago, one thousand years ago, five years ago lives among others who simply do not see things as we do.  While it is important not to judge others, it is crucial to bear in mind a practicing Catholic faces division, resistance and constant challenges.

In the same passage, Jesus states, “There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!” Certainly He is not referring to a dip in the water kind of baptism, but the human pain of death and the painful human process that death, crucifixion, entailed.  But that was done to show a practicing Catholic  that we should not fear death, but rather, look forward to the day we are all together in heaven.

So, like the tune from “The Lion King” we should all “be prepared!”  Be prepared, as a practicing Catholic, to face a constant test: perhaps from loved ones, from others, from temptations and distractions.  The road to heaven will not be smooth nor safe.

But extremely rewarding.

I was initially surprised to read and hear these words this morning at mass.  But it made sense to me after reflection.
What are your thoughts hearing Jesus talking about coming to “set the world on fire” and “how I wish it were already blazing”?