The Gospel according to Daenerys

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 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!
There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!
Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. 
From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; 
a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”

I have to admit that one of my addictions, little byways that distract me from getting too engrossed in the study of theology, is following the series Game of Thrones. Too bad we have to wait for another ten months just in time for winter to set in. Winter is coming. So is Daenerys.

The young Targaryen queen vying for the Iron Throne is coming to Westeros to claim the seven kingdoms. This comes after six seasons of preparations where we saw her burn through everything… and survived. One of the most gratifying scenes in the show is where we see Daenerys literally burning down the old order of things in order to start afresh. We saw her burn the body of Khal Drogo and ensuing pyre hatched her dragon eggs. We saw her burn down cities to free its slaves from the masters of Astapor and Yunkai. We saw her burn down the Dothraki Temple along with the khals to take hold of the horde.

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She is what we call a catalyst. In chemistry, a substance that enters into a chemical change without being changed but rather speeds up the process and lessens the energy required is called a catalyst. Metaphorically, we use the word to describe people who encourages change in a society. Fire, which is one of the most visible signs of chemical change, is the brand of Daenerys’ change.

Jesus too talks about fire. In our Christian imagery, fire is always related to the Spirit, the agent of change, of creation and re-creation. The Spirit fell like tongues of fire on the Apostles during the Pentecost. Today we describe our charismatic brothers and sisters as afire with the Spirit. That is exactly the point of Jesus. He wished to cast fire on the earth, the Spirit, the new Baptism of Fire, and he wished to see the flames lit up consuming the world – changing it.

Changes always come at a cost. The old is consumed by the change in order to give birth to the new. As such, there has to be a decision to change for change to happen. This is what shakes things up in our world. This is the division that Jesus is talking about. In our being Christians, we are often called to make decisions that will surely divide. It cuts through between those who are for the change and those against.

When couples enter into the Sacrament of Marriage, they make a decision for a change that will divide their options – they choose to be with a spouse over all the other possible options, for life. When a priest is ordained he makes a decision that he will never have a wife, his own children, his own house. When we truly believe in the Church’s teachings we often pit ourselves against the values of the world. Talk about the issues on artificial contraception, divorce, death penalty, and same-sex marriage. The real following of Christ will always force us to make decisions that will divide.

Yet, we are not afraid. Just like Daenerys who only wishes to usher in a new world, a new order of things, we Christians have always our eyes fixed on heaven. The change that we do on earth is in view of the promise of heaven. We personally change our behavior, our way of life in order to reflect the way we will soon live in heaven. We become catalysts of society in order to make present the Kingdom of God on earth. We are the fire that Jesus saw, for we have received the Spirit at our Baptism. If only we keep the flames blazing!


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