Was Jesus a troublemaker? You betcha. Today Christianity is invoked as the flagship of the armada of Family Values, Patriotism, and other political bulwarks. History might sound a cough of protest. The Jesus people were originally deemed a threat to social mores. Romans saw Christianity as subversive of civic responsibility. Christians caused a tremor in established hierarchies, divisions, and alliances in the culture. Christian leaders worked hard to dispel such charges, even including Hellenistic household codes in Paul’s letters to assure people that “wives would be dutiful to their husbands,” as children would be to parents, and slaves to owners.
Yet Jesus says plainly that his message causes division and dissension. His gospel leads to shattered families, as each member chooses for or against his way. Marriages will end. Different generations may find a chasm of meaning yawn between them. The Christian community redefines home, family, and social responsibility for those who believe. Those who take Jesus seriously, and those who don’t, still find Jesus to be trouble.
Do you think church and government should be allied?
How might that partnership affect the church’s mission?
Reflect on the source of your passions: family, work, creative endeavours, or other pursuits. Find ways to make your passions work together for God’s purposes.
The Scripture (Luke 12: 49-50) Jesus the Cause of Division
Jesus continued, “I’ve come to start a fire on earth – how I wish it were blazing right now! I’ve come to change everything, turn everything right-side up – how I long for it to be finished! Do you think I came to smooth things over and make everything nice? Not so. I’ve come to disrupt and confront”.
Today Jesus describes our lives quite simply in terms of trouble. The conflict that marked the life of Jesus marks our lives too. The Gospel of love, the Gospel of the resurrection, is signed with the cross; and if we are followers of Jesus then we too will be signed with that cross. We are urged today to keep our eyes firmly fixed on the Lord, and not to lose sight of God. And we are encouraged in our struggles by the example and the spiritual company of all God’s faithful people, who, together, walk this road of Calvary and Easter. Many years ago, as a young theologian, Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) described the life of a Christian in the world. Our first task, he said, is to preach the Gospel of Jesus. Our second task is to bring the fire of God’s love to the world. Our final task is to suffer for the sake of others, as Our Lord did himself. This is the basic law for all disciples of Christ. This is the way we are called to follow. And as for talk of peace, Jesus knows that, for all his words about love, mercy, patience and perseverance, he will know no peace in this world. He is attacked and tormented at every turn by those who feel themselves threatened by his goodness. Holiness has enemies and they know how to torture their victims. Even families will find themselves at odds over Jesus and his Gospel.
Rejoice in your ability to serve.
In giving and not in hoarding, we will know God with us.
In sharing and not in keeping, we will know God with us.
In helping and not in counting hours, we will know God with us.
In friendship and not in rejection, we will know God with us.
God encourages your generosity.
God discourages the mean-spirit. We will serve those who Jesus would have served. Amen.
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