In the twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, the first reading is from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah (38:4-6, 8-10). Jeremiah had announced, “This city shall certainly be handed over to the army of the king of Babylon; he shall capture it.” His prophecy conflicted with the military strategies of the princes, who brought their accusations against him to Zedekiah who was a week and inconsistent leader, the last of Judah’s kings. They chose to throw him into a muddy cistern, intending to make him a humiliating spectacle whose prophetic word would be ridiculed. The king who had approve the violent action against Jeremiah orders Ebed-melech to rescue the prophet before he dies.
The second reading is from the Letter to the Hebrews (12;1-4). The author reminds the community that they must persevere in the painful, difficult situations they face. Like the athlete who commits his or her total self to the completion of the goal, so too the Christians must display similar courage, perseverance, and commitment.
In the Gospel according to Luke (12:49-53). When Jesus says that he came to cast fire upon the earth, he may be longing for the fire of the Holy Spirit to be ignited in his disciples and also be longing for the fires that refined and purify the people. The baptism that Jesus anticipates is the immersion into his passion and death.