Welcome to the Cathedral Church of Saints Peter & Paul, Clifton.

 

Sunday 18th August 2019
Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
Jeremiah 38: 4-6, 8-10     Hebrews 12: 1-4     Luke 12: 49-53

A New Creation.

Often the images we have of Jesus are very pleasant and nice: Jesus and the children; Jesus the good shepherd carrying a wounded lamb; or Jesus teaching or healing. There is nothing wrong with these at all. However, the Jesus we meet in today’s Gospel is far removed from the nice, polite Jesus we know from our childhood days. In his own words, Jesus tells us that he has “come to bring fire to the earth,” and wishes it “were blazing already”! What exactly could Jesus possibly mean by these apparently destructive words and message?

This Sunday’s Gospel has a definite shock value to it. It names things we tend to avoid: fire, division and anguish. The message that Jesus speaks is not mild, gentle or timid. The message that Jesus offers us is life-changing, radical and has the power to transform our lives. The call of Jesus requires that we make a response. We can’t ignore the call. We have to make a decision whether to follow Jesus or not. If we decide to follow Jesus, then our lives will be changed. He clearly spells out the cost of his good news and the cost of being his disciple. His coming brings ‘fire’. His own ‘baptism’ causes him pain. His radical message and preaching causes division even within the same family.

When Jesus speaks, he doesn’t soften his message. He spells out the cost of living his good news. Some people will accept his message, others will not. His spoken words and actions put before us the choice we are asked to make if we are faithfully to follow him. We read in the scriptures that God is ‘making all things new’. Through Jesus, all things are made new – including us. The choice to embrace and welcome this new life is ours. If we say ‘yes’ to following Jesus, we are also called to be transformed. It is through the Spirit of God that we are encouraged and made new. The Spirit of God is powerful and life-giving. We are a missionary church, not a static church. May every one of us have the courage to open ourselves to the life-changing message of Jesus.

 

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Scripture Reflections (below) © Peter J Harrison 2019