Thursday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Gospel Lk 12:49-53
Jesus said to his disciples: “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!”
Scorched earth policy is a military strategy which involves destroying anything that can be used by an enemy. Jesus, in saying he has come to set the earth on fire is describing such a policy. His mission is to cleanse the earth, destroy anything that can be used by the adversary, and restore the kingdom back to its rightful owner, God. His mission was not simply a reformation or renovation, but a deconstruction followed by a new construction. Jesus challenged every minute detail of life. Gone were the temples, the laws, the hierarchy of society, the boundaries dividing people, the social classes, the rulers, and restored was Gods Kingdom. Gods Kingdom, which is on one hand that Kingdom which has always existed, and that same Kingdom which is newly built on the ashes of the Kingdom of Man. His Kingdom was not for the Greeks Luke writes to, it was not for the Jewish diaspora or the Jews of Jerusalem, and it was not for the Romans. Each of these was their own individual kingdoms, with their own rules and rulers. Jesus kingdom was one kingdom, and one ruler; Gods Kingdom. In looking at this policy of bringing everything to the ground so that something new can arise, it is in a sense the same policy the Church uses when two parishes are combined into one. Both are closed, and both are dismantled, and the names of each are taken out of commission, so that when they come together they do so not as the sum of two halves but rather as a new and unique whole. This scorched earth policy is in a sense the same policy of baptism where the individual dies in the baptismal waters only to rise as a new life; they die to sin and rise in Christ.