The word “baptize” comes from a Greek word meaning “to dip” or “to submerge.” This weekend’s Gospel is all about Jesus submerging us more fully into His mission – a mission to spread His message. And what is that message? Quite simply, the message is this: Jesus Christ is not some passive, “Hallmark card” phrase philosopher that came to say some nice things we could put on bumper stickers and bracelets. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords who has come to declare the radical, earth-shattering message that God is in love with us and wants us to be in love with Him, and that we are called to live in and share that love.
This isn’t an easy message to stomach…Jesus basically declares that the world is going to be divided over His message, that family members are going to turn against each other, that there will be fights amongst even the closest of friends. How scary must that have been to hear!? Imagine you’re standing in the crowd listening to Jesus preach and He tells you that the world is going to be fighting over what He has to teach and say. What would you do? Would you walk away and ignore Him? After all, who wants to follow a guy that’s promising you nothing but strife and struggle over His message of supposed love?
We are called to have a burning zeal for the Lord…a zeal that energizes and animates every action, movement, motion, and decision of our lives. When people look at us they should see someone on fire for this love of Christ and His Church – and if that animating love divides us, it is a division for the sake of Truth. It’s not always easy to believe in Christ, and this sometimes turns people away from us. Non-believers look at people on fire for the Gospel and question our excitement and zeal because they find it weird and think it constricts the “fun” and “freedom” in our life. But in the end, this division is one that separates the “goats” from the “sheep” – it’s a division that separates the Truth-seekers and the Lie-lovers. It’s a division that reminds us that we are the ones with hearts on fire for the Lord…and this fire burns. It burns within us because we have been summoned to the Truth, have fallen in love with the Truth, and desire to share that Truth. This week, really challenge yourself to figure out where this message of Christ has caused division…what do you need to remove yourself from because it’s not in line with Christ’s Truth? Who needs to be eliminated from your life because they cause you to be distracted from the Truth? How can you take steps to allow zeal for Christ to consume you? I’ll be praying for you.