August 14, 2022: “May the words from my lips and the meditations of our hearts always be pleasing "
Updated: Aug 20, 2022
In our Gospel reading this morning Jesus is harsh. We do not expect these words about division. In the rest of Luke’s gospel Jesus preaches about reconciliation and peace.
How do we come to terms with this Jesus. This Jesus who says “what stress I am under”!
What “Good news” can be found in this. What can Jesus’ words about division mean. And why is he calling the people in the crowd hypocrites.
Jesus has no patience with those who do not grasp the urgency of his pilgrimage to Jerusalem, his mission and his life’s work. For this is the context. Jesus’ single minded determination is a passion we do recognize and often admire. Somethings matter so much that only focused attention and strong speech can convey the message.
In this part of Luke’s Gospel Jesus has gone Hebrew Scripture prophetic. He is clear that divisions are going to happen over issues of faith. But he is also teaching that kinship can be by choice. We choose our sisters and brothers that we worship with. These may not always be family. In fact perhaps these days they rarely are.
This passage suggests that when division begins the Gospel has begun to break in among us.
Jesus’ strong and harsh words may be difficult for many of us to hear - especially if we have had a negative experience in Church.
Congregations are often not “happy families” where there are no disagreements and where everyone gets along all the time. Human families are not without division and disagreement and discord - why would we expect anything else in Church. Families fight. Families are divided over many issues; divorce, hurtful words or actions, lies, deceit, money, favourtism, sexual preferences or gender identity, political differences & the list could go on and on.
Have you experienced judgment or unkind treatment from people in Church.
If you have not personally experienced it maybe you know someone who has.
Or maybe you are the one who has judged someone or had unkind words. Or maybe you were the one who said that someone was not welcome.
If we are truthful with ourselves most of us can probably see ourselves in Jesus’ words about division.
The Church can be a very hurtful place. And once you are hurt by Church people it can be very very difficult to come back inside. It might mean finding a different Church or maybe a different denomination. Some people never find a desire to go back to Church.
And sometimes the wounds are so deep and so painful that we can understand why someone would have no wish to participate in any type of faith community.
The divisions and hurt caused by the Church or Church people might be even worse because we do not expect people of faith to behave that way. We are naive and we are fooling ourselves.
There are terrible things done in the name of Christ’s church.
So maybe today’s harsh words from the Gospel of Luke need to be heard, need to be meditated on, need to be an impetus to look at ourselves and our words and actions.
And once we have examined ourselves and our behaviour, we can once more ask for forgiveness - perhaps from someone but definitely from God.
Facing hard truths does not feel good. But grace comes when you clarify what is right and what is wrong. What gives you the courage to do what is right - even if someone else does not like it.
Jesus welcomes all, sometimes we don’t. But there is always a chance to make things right.