Readings: Revelation 15:1-4; Psalm 98; Luke 21:12-19
When the time for its judgement comes, the world will be judged by fire. This fire of the presence of God is on the one hand a fire of judgement, consuming all that is arrogant and evil. On the other hand it is a shining 'sun of righteousness', coming with healing in its rays. It is the fire of God's fury and of God's victory, the fire of God's love which both consumes and heals.
The crucifixion of Jesus is the moment of judgement, the world's crisis, dilemma or crux, the paradox in which all the good things of the old order are consumed along with all its evil, and a new order is established at least in principle, in the principle that is Jesus Christ, the source of all grace. The cross will forever render us confused and uncertain, wondering and pondering like Mary standing at its foot.
At the heart of this new revelation of God's love and anger is a violent act. This is what we expect in apocalyptic writing. But the violence is not in the end a violence perpretated by God or by the agents of God. It is rather a violence undergone by God and by the agents of God, a violence endured, so that the old order, the spiral of hatred, is finally undone and a new order, a sea of glass, is established on which those who are being transfigured by this redemptive fire can stand and praise the glory of God.
Jesus warns his followers that it will be for them as it has been for him but it is an opportunity to bear witness. That means an opportunity to participate in revealing to the world what God is like, the Living God, the Father of Jesus. What will seem at first like loss, uncertainty and confusion, being struck dumb, will turn out not to have been loss at all (not a hair on your head will be destroyed). Hated by all for the sake of Jesus' name, the martyrs are the great witnesses to the enduring of this love in the world's history.
We pray for the courage to stay with Jesus as he leads us into the mystery of the Divine Love. We know that this fire will be dangerous for us, burning away the old man, dissolving all arrogance and evil in us. But we know too that it is the sun of righteousness, the radiant light of God's own life, a holy and a blessed fire, come with healing in its rays.