Reading: Luke 12.54-59
Jesus 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?
‘And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? Thus, when you go with your accuser before a magistrate, on the way make an effort to settle the case, or you may be dragged before the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer throw you in prison. I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny.’
One of the criticisms that non-Christians often level at the Church and its leaders is one of ‘interference’. When some significant social, economic or political event occurs, and a church leader comments upon that event, you can be sure that someone will say that it has nothing to do with the Church. This is, of course, far from the reality of our Christian calling. It is when the Church does not comment on significant events in the everyday lives of people that it is totally failing in its calling to be representative of Christ on earth.
Chapter 12 of Luke’s gospel has, for many centuries been seen as Jesus urging Christians to read the signs of the times we are living in. At the beginning of the twenty-first century no one can fail to notice the discontent and division, the injustice and prejudice, and the wanton disregard for the preservation of God’s wonderful creation that is dominating the way that humanity is managing its own affairs. How can any Christian not feel moved to comment and to take action in the name of Christ?
Jesus teaches us to see things as they are and to stand up for what is right. Jesus also tempers that with the clear instruction that we should not resort to violence, but rather use Christian love as our only weapon when we face up to those who are getting it so wrong.
In today’s reading Jesus is reminding us of all of these responsibilities. Jesus is urging us to read the signs of the times and then to speak out in his name. He is also urging us to avoid conflict if we can. He wants his followers to show the world that there can be a path of peaceful negotiation and reconciliation – we do not always have to resort to the law, or violence for that matter, to find the best way forward.
Of course, this does not only apply to the bigger issues that cause so much pain in our world. Jesus is encouraging us to apply this teaching and model in our everyday local lives as well. So, instead of building bigger fences and shouting louder insults, let us see how Christian love might bring about the reconciliation and peace we so desperately need in our lives.