Gospel Reflection for Sunday 18th August The 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time
The disturbing words of Jesus
Nobody could argue with or disagree with the loving, peaceful, forgiving and compassionate Jesus. We are all very familiar with the gentle and tender image of Jesus, the Good Shepherd. However, there is another side to Jesus. We recall that when his own disciples wanted to stop the children from seeing Jesus, he was angry. In the temple when the people had turned it into a market place and place where money was exchanged, Jesus took a rope, overturned the table and drove everyone out. Again we see Jesus being emotional and very angry for the right reasons.
In the Gospel, this Sunday Jesus speaks words that we might find surprising and even disturbing. This is not the mild or gentle Jesus; quite the opposite! He says, ‘I have come to bring fire to earth…’ ‘Do you suppose that I am here to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.’ Then Jesus says that families will be split and divided. What could he possibly mean by saying to us today?
To follow Jesus as one of his disciples was a very dangerous and radical thing to do. The Romans thought that Jesus and his message was threat to their own gods, their rule and empire. No self-respecting Roman wanted any of their family to be involved with this wandering preacher and his message of the new Kingdom of God. The ruling Jewish authorities saw Jesus as threat to their understanding of the Law and their own image of God which he often condemned and criticised. So to follow this Jesus was a very bold and brave thing to do. Some heard Jesus and followed him; some heard Jesus and dismissed him. Those who became his disciples often pulled away from the families, creating new friendship with others who also followed Jesus. So in this light, we can now see why Jesus brought division to families.
Following Jesus today is no easier, in fact it’s often a lot harder! To follow Jesus and live by his message is still a very dangerous and radical thing to do. Calling myself a Christian is not just a name, it’s a call and challenge to live a very specific way of life. If I do call myself a Christian, does this inform my way life? Does being a Christian help me to make good decisions in my daily life? Sometimes the choices I make can bring me into conflict with others, even those in my family. Being a Christian is a risky thing to be today. It will challenge me to follow the example of Jesus, which is not always easy or pleasant. When Mary heard that she was to be the Mother of Jesus, we are told that she was disturbed by the message. Jesus and his message are meant to disturb us; they are meant to challenge us.
As we try to follow Jesus as best we can in our daily lives, we find support and encouragement in others who are also living their lives following the example and message of Jesus.
– Br Michael Moore OMI
Gospel: Luke 12:49-53 ©
Christ calls for total loyalty, even if it causes severe dissension
Jesus said to his disciples,
“I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptised, 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.”
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