Thirteen Sunday after Pentecost yr. c-Br Simeon

The Blue Mountains Franciscan Church

Sermon preached by br. Simeon at Springwood Sunday 14th August 2016

Thirteen Sunday after Pentecost yr. c

Gospel: Luke 12:49-59

“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already ablaze… Do you think that I have come to establish peace on earth? No! I tell you, but rather division.”

Four Catholic Ladies are having coffee together. The first one tells her friends, ” My son is a priest. When he walks into a room, everyone calls him ‘Father'”.

The second Catholic woman chirps, ” My son is a Bishop. Whenever he walks into a room, people say, ‘Your Grace’.”

The third Catholic woman says smugly,” my son is a Cardinal. Whenever he walks into a room, people say. ‘Your Eminence’.”

The fourth Catholic woman sips her coffee in silence. The first three women give her this subtle “Well…?”

She replies, ” My son is a gorgeous, 6’2″, hard bodied stripper. When he walks into a room, people say, ‘Oh my God…’.”

In the name of the One God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen

We have here one of the rare glimpses which our Lord gives us into His inmost heart, His thoughts of His mission, and His feelings about it. If familiarity had not weakened the impression, and dulled the edge, of these words, how startling they would seem to us! A Jewish peasant says that he is going to set the world on fire- and he did it.

When Luke wrote these few lines of his Gospel, Christians were living through difficult times and circumstances. In many places they were treated with ridicule, distain and intolerance. Jesus’ words are addressed to them and to all Christians who have paid dearly for their living their faith in their time and place.

Fire is a Scriptural symbol of judgement. The lord will judge the hearts of all men and women in the light of the Gospel’s “Blaze”.

The word used in the original text that reads baptism actually means a “plunging”, a total submersion. Jesus continues on to Jerusalem where he will be “plunged” into the Passover of the new covenant into which, through baptism, we will all be “plunged”.

The Gospel is not a soft, easy message to embrace. Jesus does not sugar-coat his message: Families and households will be divided over the hard demands of the Gospel of reconciliation, justice and servanthood.

The compassion, the selflessness, the humility, the justice that Jesus demands of those who would be disciples are a “fire” and “baptism” through which we transform our world in the life and love of God. The challenges of discipleship, Jesus teaches, is not to let God’s word of justice and mercy divide us but to realize the world’s ability to bring all humanity together as God’s holy people.

To live the Gospel faithfully is to become a contradiction to those around us, to seek to attain a higher ethical and moral standard in confronting life’s challenges. The Gospel calls us to risk power, prestige and even acceptance to stand up for the equality, justice, compassion and reconciliation that every individual possesses by virtue of being a son and a daughter of God.

The Gospel of Jesus is not easy, it is not comfortable; it is challenging and demanding and, in its call for personal conversion, it can be divisive and confrontational. Discipleship is not without cost; balancing the Gospel of unconditional, reconciling love and its ethical and moral imperatives with the reality of our lives is very difficult.  Despite the divisive consequences, Christ calls us to the hard work of seeking the mercy and justice of God and living His gospel of reconciliation and peace in our own time and place, regardless of the cost.

To know Jesus is to know his words, to know him as Word. The words he speaks are truth and life. He comes to give life, life to the full.

In the divisions we suffer, in the contradictions we encounter, in the disconnect between the conventional wisdom and the wisdom of God, the love of God is the one constant that brings us back to one another, that heals the rifts, that bridges the divides between us.

Amen. to 14th Sunday after Pentecost


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