SET THE EARTH ON FIRE
I have to admit that when I read today’s readings in preparation for this column my spirit groaned within me. Over the years I have not spent any time meditating on this particular gospel passage from Luke. Fortunately, I read this a month ago so the Holy Spirit had time to generate some positive thoughts on this particular gospel!
When you think of Christ as the good shepherd who has come to rescue the lost, feed the hungry, and show mercy to the outcasts, it seems so strange to hear Jesus telling the crowd that he has come for division. As I thought about this passage I couldn’t help but think of the times in my life when I or someone else needed to hear the hard truth—to be challenged enough to really get through–so that one literally chooses to move to a new and different path.
I wonder if this was Jesus’ intent as he spoke to this crowd. There were so many injustices that needed to be addressed and changed in that first century culture. In many ways we have similar injustices today—poverty, the escalation of war and violence, the hunger for money and power, etc.
I remember when the TV program came out, Do You Want to be a Millionaire. Now the desire of many is to be a billionaire. Power, especially in governments and in economies, is another god of our times. Others seek fame and the list goes on.
When Jesus came he understood the values of that time needed to be changed. He was the only rabbi who claimed that the poor, the sorrowing, the lowly, the merciful, the single-hearted, the peacemakers, and the persecuted were blessed. Imagine what the rich and powerful thought about that!
Jesus also said in this gospel, “There is a baptism with which I must be baptized & how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!” That baptism was his impending death on the cross. Jesus is the embodiment of God’s promise that God will go to any length to win us back. Jesus is the visible icon who reveals our God to us-a God who comes in search of each one of us, who makes room for our freedom even when it cost His Son’s life, a God who is vulnerable. Ultimately Jesus reveals a God who is LOVE!
The sentence before Luke 12:49 reads, “When much has been given a man, much will be required of him. More will be asked of a man to whom more has been entrusted.”
Much has indeed been given to us and much will be required of us. The beauty of our faith and our relationship with God rests on only one thing: LOVE. Your assignment for this week is to become more aware of how much God showers love on you daily and how much of that love do you pay forward?
Love much, Sr. Pat