Saturday, August 17, 2019

Gospel text for Sunday 19 August 2019

Luke 12.49-56         Jesus said, "I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother,
mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

He also said to the crowds, "When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, `It is going to rain'; and so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, `There will be scorching heat'; and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?”

Reflection        It seems we are still living in the times Jesus proclaims, end times during which division has no bounds. What if this is actually good news? What if the divisions we are experiencing are an essential ingredient of our journey with Jesus? What if the apocalyptic prophet Jesus is calling us out saying “People, this journey we are on is no cake walk. It is not about sitting on my lap like dotting toddlers. It is not about making nice with one another, professing love and worshipping me. It is not even about being enlightened by my tutelage. It is about following me. It is about exercising justice and offering amends.”

Oh dear, we know where this lands Jesus. Crosswise with everyone and nailed to a tree. Now division is driving even closer to home, drilling itself right into my heart. “Yes Jesus I want to follow you. No Jesus I do not want to follow you.” Division burgeons, within me. 

And so we join “a lawyer (confronting) Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ what must (we) do to inherit eternal life?’ (Jesus says), ‘What is written in the law? (We answer), ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself.’ And (Jesus tells us), ‘You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.’ (Luke 10.25-28) This is the infallible way that insures we ‘live,’ this is the way we are meant to participate in the creation of “the kingdom come.” 

But do we really love our neighbor as much as our selves? Do we insist that all sick people are cared for even at our own expense? Do we offer refuge to the frightened and oppressed foreigner? Do we feed the hungry and give shelter to the homeless regardless of how they came upon hard times? Do we protect and give preferential treatment to children and the most vulnerable even when it means paying higher taxes for education and mental health care? Do we treat people who think or vote or have lifestyles unlike ours with respect and consideration? How well do we love our neighbors as ourselves?

Jesus expected the imminent end of history as he knew it and he purposefully, even zealously, participated in the creation of a new reality. If we desire the end of history as we know it, history fraught with division; father against son, son against father, friend against friend, neighbor against neighbor, race against race, religion against religion, leader against leader, nation against nation, if we desire the end of this detonating divisiveness, it starts with us.  

We begin by admitting we could do better,  then dig into the work of living our faith. When we choose to put down our proverbial nets, walk away from our predictable lives, and act deliberately to put meat on the bones of our faith we will encounter division. People will judge and misunderstand us. Like Jesus, our families may call us crazy. Some will call us weak, others over zealous. Friends will see us as sell outs. Neighbors as outliers. When we turn our backs to the status quo and join Jesus on the way to Jerusalem, we can count on division. And, when we answer the call of the Jewish Apocalyptic prophet from Galilee we actively participate in the creation of “the kingdom come” right here, right now.

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