Categories
Podcast Reflections

Reflection on Luke 12.49-53

Listen to a reflection on Luke 12.49-53, the gospel reading set for DEL Week 29: Thursday, 21 October 2021

Reading
Luke 12.49-53

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 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.’

Reflection

How often has someone turned Christ’s call for his followers to live in love, peace and unity into a criticism? You know the sort of thing. A church member will become involved in a public dispute and their faith will be used against them. Someone will say: I thought you were a Christian! And, in that statement, lies the accusation that what has been seen or heard is very far from being ‘Christian’. Of course, all who profess a faith in Jesus Christ are called to live in love, peace and unity, but we do not always manage to achieve that exacting standard. Those who would call themselves Christian are as human as everyone else. As we know from reading scripture, the entire history of humanity has been filled with mistakes and failures, poor judgements and moments of self-interest. We should not be surprised that Christians, even the most observant of Christians, get it wrong sometimes.

Having said that, we also need to ask ourselves why we think that Christians are not allowed to get angry from time to time. Surely this is what Jesus is talking about today when he suggests that faith in him will cause even families and those who are closest to each other to come into dispute. If this were not the case, Christianity would have died out long ago. The devil would have won through the compromises made by Christians. Rather than defending our faith, we would have capitulated in every dispute … just to avoid the accusation of ‘not living in love, peace and unity’.

Jesus’ stark warning of what was to come should not be seen as a charter for conflict within the Church, however. Jesus expects those who believe in him to be strong in their love, their peace and their unity. It is through that strength that the community of faith will withstand all that is evil in this world. But … we do need to be careful. Sometimes Church communities find themselves harbouring those who would undermine the strength of the Church by their insistence on always getting their own way, on dominating the thoughts and practices of those around them. Such people have lost their way in the faith; such people are responsible for those too common accusatory statements: I thought you were a Christian!

Let us pray that we might stand strong in the faith, but let us also remember Christ’s call to love, peace and unity. Let us work hard to show Christ’s love to all, but let us not fall into the trap of compromising our faith … just for a ‘quiet life’. Let us remember that while we are genuinely defending our faith, rather than our self-interest, we are journeying the path Christ wants us to travel.