This Is Not a Dress Rehearsal

Romans 6:19-23 / Lk 12: 49-53

Taking life for granted is one of the worst mistakes any of us can ever make. We can end up sleeping through most of life, as if we thought it would somehow just go on forever. For many of us, life has a certain air of unreality and sometimes it seems that someone had better issue the warning: This is not a dress rehearsal. This is the real thing.

Jesus is issuing that very warning to us in today's gospel. "I've come to light a fire on earth," he says, "and how I wish the blaze were ignited!" What exactly does he want to set afire? Us! All of us! He wants to fire us up with enthusiasm for the marvelous possibilities that life holds out to us – both here and in the hereafter. Specifically, he wants to see us commit everything we've got to making God's kingdom of love and peace come here and now. A task of that magnitude requires total commitment and admits of no ambivalence.

So what does the Lord see when he looks at us? A heart ablaze? Smoldering embers and a little smoke? A pile of dead ashes? Jesus had some hard words about folks who tried to get away with minimal commitments. "Be either hot or cold," he said. "If you are lukewarm, I'll spit you out of my mouth."

That's what he said. It would probably be smart to take him at his word!