Reflections for the Week of Sunday August 14, 2016

Gospel: Luke 12.49-56. In this startling text Jesus said He came to bring fire and division rather than peace, and says people fail to discern the signs of the times. What is He talking about? Fire means judgment. Jesus brings judgment and division in that some people believe in Him as the Messiah and God the Son and turn to Him in repentance and faith, but others reject Him and refuse to acknowledge Him. To reject Him is judgment. We see this in the startling events of Palm Sunday and Holy Week. Crowds accept Him as the Messiah, throw down their cloaks before Him and wave palm branches in His honor. These are probably Galileans who have come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. Five days later, on Good Friday, crowds demand His crucifixion and prefer to have a murderer released than to release Jesus. These are the Pharisees and Sadducees and Herodians and their followers who are the powerful and the elite who see Jesus as a revolutionary bent on changing the status quo. This is what judgment and division look like. The division still persists in the world: some believe and others don’t. His peace dwells in some, but not others. Jesus said He had a baptism to undergo meaning the cross. He used ‘baptism’ for the cross in Mk 10.38 when James and John asked if they could be on His right and left when He came into His glory. Jesus asked if they could be baptized with the baptism He had to be baptized with. Baptism in a sense means death and our liturgical baptism signifies our dying with Christ to our old life of sin and unbelief. Similarly, we believe that we are resurrected with Christ as we come up out of the water of baptism to new life in Him, filled with the Spirit that gives regeneration, justification, redemption, remission of sins, and eternal life. So the world is divided into believers and non-believers, those who comprise His body and those who don’t. But it may be that the member of His body–the church–must grow into their new status as believers. Sanctification is a process that requires both the work the Holy Spirit in us and our cooperative effort as well. We need to become familiar with the Bible, the written Word, and we need to have a vital relationship with God, the living Word, through prayer. We need to have Christian fellowship in discipleship groups to grow in our love for our neighbors. We need to worship regularly and take the Holy Eucharist as He commanded us to do. We need to confess our sins to others and receive their acceptance of us in spite of our shortcomings. We need the input from others regarding our spiritual lives. The love and joy and peace of the Holy Spirit is a reflection of our loving relationships with fellow disciples on our shared journey toward Christ. It can’t be done alone. Jesus said we can predict the weather but we fail to see the signs of the times. Doesn’t this mean that we fail to see that life is short and time is fleeting and the day is coming when we will be asked to justify our every word and act before the Almighty God? Life is not just physical and material things; it also consists of spiritual things: feelings, choices, moral realities, commitments, desires, preferences, unseen realities. These spiritual things are signs and we ignore them at our peril. They are as real as the material things we can see and touch. God is Reality, and we must deal with Him whether we know Him or not. Behind the life of opaque material things is the invisible spiritual Reality that we must acknowledge and deal with. God is Spirit and is everywhere and is invisible but ultimately determines where we are headed and what our destiny is.

Memory Verse: Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling for it is God who works in you both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Phil 2.12, 13).

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