‘Is not my word like fire,’ says the Lord, ‘and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?’ Jeremiah 23:29
increase in us your gift of faith,
that, forsaking sin and all that hinders us,
we may run with perseverance the race that is set before us,
looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God,
for ever and ever. Amen
- Isaiah 5:1-7
- Psalm 80: 1-2, 8-19
- Heb 11:29-12:2
- Luke 12:49-59
- Jeremiah 1:4-10
- Psalm 71:1-6
- Heb 12:18-29
- Luke 13:10-17
Tenth Sunday after Pentecost
“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already ablaze . . . Do you think that I have come to establish peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.”
When Luke wrote these few lines of his Gospel, Christians were living through difficult times and circumstances. In many places they were treated with ridicule, disdain and intolerance. Jesus’ words are addressed to them and to all Christians who have paid dearly for living their faith in their time and place.
Fire is a Scriptural symbol of judgment. The Lord will judge the hearts of all men and women in the light of the Gospel’s “blaze.”
The word used in the original text that reads here as baptism actually means a “plunging,” a total submersion. Jesus continues on to Jerusalem where he will be “plunged” into the Passover of the new covenant into which, through baptism, we will all be “plunged,” as well.
The Gospel is not a soft, easy message to embrace. Jesus does not sugarcoat his message: Families and households will be divided over the hard demands of the Gospel of reconciliation, justice and servanthood.
The compassion, the selflessness, the humility, the justice that Jesus demands of those who would be his disciples are a “fire” and “baptism” through which we transform our world in the life and love of God. The challenge of discipleship, Jesus teaches, is not to let God’s word of justice and mercy divide us but to realise the word’s ability to bring all humanity together as God’s holy people.
To live the Gospel faithfully is to become a contradiction to those around us, to seek to attain a higher ethical and moral standard in confronting life’s challenges. The Gospel calls us to risk power, prestige and even acceptance to stand up for the equality, justice, compassion and reconciliation that every individual possesses by virtue of being a son and daughter of God.
The Gospel of Jesus is not easy, it is not comfortable; it is challenging and demanding and, in its call for personal conversion, it can be divisive and confrontational. Discipleship is not without cost; balancing the Gospel of unconditional, reconciling love and its ethical and moral imperatives with the reality of our lives is very difficult. Despite the divisive consequences, Christ calls us to the hard work of seeking the mercy and justice of God and living his Gospel of reconciliation and peace in our own time and place, regardless of the cost. In the divisions we suffer, in the contradictions we encounter, in the disconnect between the conventional wisdom and the wisdom of God, the love of God is the one constant that brings us back to one another, that heals the rifts, that bridges that divides between us.
NO AUDIO THIS WEEK
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