August 18, 2019 – 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the first reading, we read about the punishment given to the prophet Jeremiah for speaking out God’s truth to his people.  In the Gospel, Jesus says: “There is a baptism with which I must be baptized and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!

Today, Jesus and Jeremiah’s stories remind us that pain and suffering are part and parcel of our lives as followers of Christ.  In the gospel, Jesus’ reference to his baptism is all about his impending suffering on the cross.  Jesus and Jeremiah suffered much during their earthly lives because of their faithfulness to the truth.

Dearest sisters and brothers, it is exactly the same situation for us if we want to be faithful to God.  God never promised anyone a journey without pain.  Rather, he promised a safe arrival to the heavenly destination if one remains faithful.  Today, the Book of Hebrews presents our ancestors to us who also passed through the same trials and temptations having their eyes fixed on Jesus Christ.  If they won the battle, why shouldn’t we?

It is important to remind ourselves that nobody became a saint by having an easy life.  They all became saints because of their faithfulness in carrying their cross for the sake of Christ.  Just like them, we are all called to be ready to stand up for the truth of Christ, disagreeing with others when necessary and not compromising with the devil as Christ warned us in the gospel.

As Christians, “dissent for us means conscientious objection to evil.”  We must have the courage to speak up and speak out against evil in our society today.  As someone rightly said, “whatever division dissent may cause, it can’t be worse than a false peace, peace at the price of evil or injustice.  Dissent against evil cost Jesus his life because he found it impossible to call a cease-fire if it meant negotiating with evil.”  As Jesus’ disciples, we shouldn’t expect anything better than the fire of the cross and that is why we can’t compromise with sin as the Book of Hebrews urges us. We are called to cast off its burden and rid ourselves of its weight.

The presence of sin weighs us down from making a lot of progress in our heavenly journey.  Just like our usual journey is cumbersome when we have heavy loads, so is also our heavenly journey.  In fact, making life’s travel under the weight of sin is like filling one’s luggage with useless stones while climbing the mountain like the Greek Sisyphus.  Endeavor to rid yourself of sin so that your life’s journey will be lighter.  God has assured us of his protection.