Lord Jesus Christ,
You call us to come
To be with you,
To hear your voice
To listen deeply to your word.
By your Spirit help me
To see you,
To hear your voice,
To follow you in all of life,
In the way of God’s gracious reality.
Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost
The lectionary reading invites us to stay and listen further as Jesus continues to address the challenges that we—as his followers–face in this present age: the “push-back” we experience from those around us, even within our own families.
Jesus tells us that he brings division rather than peace; households will be divided – some who choose to follow Jesus, and others in the same household who are against the way of Christ. This division can be subtle: “How come you don’t want to watch this movie? You used to watch movies like this all the time?” “You’re going to church now? Whatever happened to you? Are you crazy or something?” “I wouldn’t help that old guy if I were you. Just because he’s a street person and doesn’t have a job doesn’t mean I have to feel sorry for him. He should go to the unemployment agency and apply for a job. What’s got into you anyway? You never used to help out at the soup kitchen.” The division can also be more violent: children have been made to leave home; parents cut off any contact with family who become Christian. Some are beaten and threatened with their life.
To choose to follow Jesus does not always bring peace, even though Jesus came to bring reconciliation between us and God (Romans 5:10).
But Jesus faces his own deep challenge:
I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress
I am under until it is completed!”
He knows that although the crowds are cheering him on today, they will turn against him and call for his death. Rarely does Jesus speak of the stress he carries as he loves, teaches, heals, tends the needs of people, mentors his disciples, and seeks to stay in conversation with the religious leaders who consistently question and oppose him.
But here he does. He allows us to see and know what he carries within him. In this he knows what each person suffers: those who are shunned, rejected, and disowned by their family and community. He too suffers misunderstanding, criticism, name-calling, rejection, hostility, and finally death. We are never alone in what we suffer because we know and follow Jesus.
At the same time Jesus laments that people do not recognize him for who he is: God among us. In John’s gospel we are told: “He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.” (John 1:10,11) The people did not know how to discern, to recognize the presence of God among them. Later in Luke’s gospel, as Jesus is about to enter the city of Jerusalem, he begins to weep. Voicing his grief he says,
If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things
that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your
eyes. . . . because you did not recognize the time of your
visitation from God.” Luke 19:41,44)
And so Jesus calls us to a deeper peace, a peace which flows out of our knowing him, his indwelling us by the Spirit. It is only this peace which can finally bring reconciliation:
within our own self, with God, with our neighbor, and with our enemy. Otherwise there is division. This painful division does not call us to turn our backs, to be hostile, to hate. Rather Jesus calls us to love, to pray for those who persecute us, to be good to all in the same way that God is good and generous to all.
In what way have you experienced criticism, “push-back”, or rejection by persons in your family or community because of your choice to know and follow Jesus?
In what way did you discover peace and comfort at those times? How did you pray?
In what way were you aware of God’s presence and care?
Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost
- 8/9 Monday: Luke 12:49-56
- 8/10 Tuesday: Luke 12:49-56
- 8/11 Wednesday: Psalm 80
- 8/12 Thursday: Isaiah 5:1-7
- 8/13 Friday: Hebrews 11:29 – 12:2
- 8/14 Saturday: Luke 12:49-56
- 8/15 Sunday: Luke 12:49-56