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Gospel for Sunday, August 14 Luke 12: 49-53

XX Sunday C

49I have come to bring fire to the earth; and how I wish it were already on! 50There is a baptism I must receive; and how anxious I am until it is accomplished! 51Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but the division. 52From now on in a house of five people 53they will divide three against two and two against three; father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.

Luke 12: 49-53

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Misericordie, I am Carlo Miglietta, doctor, biblical scholar, layman, husband, father and grandfather (

Also today I share with you a short meditation thought on the Gospel, with special reference to the theme of mercy.

An alternative life

Often believers are “like others”, they do not distinguish themselves from the environment around them: they too allow themselves to be seduced by the dominant mentality, and are not sufficiently critical towards “the world”.

But Paul warns us: “Do not conform to the mentality of this age, but be transformed by renewing your mind, so that you may discern the will of God, what is good, what is pleasing and perfect” (Rom 12:2); “We do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh think about the things of the flesh; but those who live according to the Spirit, to the things of the Spirit” (Rm 8,4-5).

Paul presents life as a clash between two realities: the “flesh” and the Spirit. “Flesh” (in Greek “sàrx”, in Hebrew “basar”) does not indicate matter, which instead is vivified by the Spirit himself: the flesh expresses, for the Apostle, the world of rejection of God. In Gal 5,19 -21 he groups “the works of the flesh” into four sections: impurity, perversion of human love, idolatry, perversion of the love of God, discord, perversion of love towards others, unruliness, perversion of self-love: “Now those who are in Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal 5:24).

Life according to the Spirit is instead the condition of the Christian. Therefore, contrasted with the “works of the flesh”, Paul speaks of the “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal 5:22), in the singular: this is because it is not a question of “doing things”, but of being a new creature. Being a “new man” according to the Spirit means producing a single fruit: Love (“agàpe”); this is why Paul speaks to us about the “fruit of the Spirit” in chapter 5 of the letter to the Galatians, with words that recall the hymn to charity in chapter 13 of the first letter to the Corinthians. Love therefore, as opposed to the selfishness and narcissism of the world, is the dimension of the entire Christian attitude (Rom 5.5).

Peter also invites us to “no longer serve human passions but the will of God… Enough with the time spent in satisfying the passions of paganism, living in debauchery, passions, debauchery, revelry, drunkenness and the illicit worship of idols. For this reason they find it strange that you do not run together with them towards this torrent of perdition and they revile you” (1 Pt 4,2-4). Following the example of Christ, the believer lives in the “will of God”. This means a break with worldliness, exemplified by Peter in the disorder of sexuality (“debauchery, passions”), in the disorder of food (“crapule, revelry, drunkenness”), in the disorder of the relationship with God (“illicit idolatries”). An incorrect relationship with sexuality and possessions does not allow a correct relationship with God. This is a harsh message for our society so founded on hedonism and consumerism. But this is where the alternative of Christian living is at stake.

Peter demands a radical cut: “Enough!” (1 Peter 4.3): we must really stand out! Without a doubt our new behavior will contrast with that of the world around us, and the world will be surprised why we do not live according to its canons and pseudo-values. They will pressure us, mock us, perhaps persecute us. Because the world will be struck by our diversity, by our otherness, before “giving an account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead” (1 Pt 4.5).

A Church capable of martyrdom

If Christians are faithful to their Lord, they must be ready, like him, to love to the point of giving life: “If the world hates you, know that it hated me before you. If you were of the world, the world would love what is of it; but since you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (Jn 15:18-19). If Christians are obedient to the Gospel, they will be persecuted for the sake of Christ as the prophets were persecuted before, because “a disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master” (Mt 10.24).

“Prophecy manifests its strength when it becomes martyrdom. There are still Christians who suffer martyrdom for their faith in certain countries or under totalitarian regimes. But there is a whole martyrology of love: all those who gave their lives so that their brothers could live in justice and dignity: let’s think of all the martyrs of Latin America. Those who gave their lives simply because they loved: think of the Cistercian brothers of Tibhérine in Algeria” (G. Lafont). “There have probably been more martyrs in this century than in the first centuries of persecution… We had perhaps become a little accustomed to considering martyrdom as an event of times gone by, something that belongs to the first centuries of the Church, that of the great persecutions of the Roman emperors” (C. M. Martini). John Paul II wrote: “At the end of the second millennium the Church has once again become the Church of martyrs”.

Martyrdom is a call for everyone, in different ways and forms, but which must find us ready. And it’s not just being killed for proclaiming our faith. It is martyrdom to be mocked for being believers, not to have a career because you refuse to compromise; it is a single mother’s refusal to have an abortion, it is accepting a motherhood that is the result of violence, or refusing even important treatments for herself that could harm her pregnant child; it is martyrdom, if abandoned, not to remarry, remaining “eunuchs for the Kingdom of heaven” (Mt 19.12), or to forgive the adulterous spouse; or catch AIDS or leprosy by treating the sick; or being mocked for being chaste, or for sharing one’s goods with the poor; it is being in any case on the side of the little ones, the poor, the suffering… It is the logic of the cross! Benedict XVI said: “Even in the current era, there are many Christians in the world who, animated by love for God, take up the cross every day, both that of daily trials and that brought about by human barbarity, which sometimes requires courage of the ultimate sacrifice. May the Lord grant each of us to always place our solid hope in him, certain that, by following him carrying our cross, we will reach with him the light of the Resurrection”.

Happy Mercy to all!

Anyone who would like to read a more complete exegesis of the text, or some insights, please ask me at


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