Updated: Oct 4, 2022
“Let us rid ourselves of every burden
and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race
that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus,
the leader and perfecter of faith.”
In this passage from Hebrews, this weekend’s Second Reading, we are called to be “fixed” on Jesus. How do we do this? By allotting sacred time for prayer, making every decision in light of what our faith teaches and following wherever the Lord may lead us. In other words, we are called to make Jesus the center of our lives. As always, Hebrews points to Jesus as our model of faith, of one who endured the cross and opposition from sinners knowing his sacrifice would place him in his Father’s glory, seated at his right hand. St. Paul also uses the image of our life of faith being like running a race, reminding us that if athletes make incredible sacrifices to win a race how much more should we too deny ourselves of anything that would be an obstacle to our life of faith.
The problem is that sometimes it is persons close to us, even family members, who oppose our calling to be a disciple. It is mostly common for those considering the priesthood or consecrated life to meet not support but resistance from their family with comments such as: how can you be happy without having your own family or why would you deprive me of having grandchildren or isn’t what you are thinking of doing, well, just a bit too radical? But when someone is “fixed” on Jesus, they may be led to a conversion that upheaves their life, leading them on a journey that is not always supported by their family or close friends.
Is that what Jesus is speaking of when in today’s challenging Gospel from Luke 12:49-53 he states that he has come not to bring peace but division? He goes on to list the several types of family relations that will experience conflict, indicating how a household will be divided. Jesus prefaces this by stating from today’s Gospel that “there is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!” The fire of faith forms blazing embers of desire to follow God wholeheartedly as we fix our eyes on Jesus, despite not always having the support of others who may not share our vision or journey.