Yesterday in Philadelphia, former President Barak Obama gave a speech in support of his former Vice-President, Joe Biden. I have no doubt that potential GOP voters dismissed the speech without listening to it or reading it. I have little doubt that potential Democratic voters accepted it in glowing terms, even if they also did not listen to it or read it. And I have no doubt that some now reading this post will think, “I knew it, he is a ______” (please fill in the blank as you see fit; for the record I am unaffiliated and quite independent). But, one might wonder why I posted this. The reason is simple and has come out in many homilies over the years. “The thoughts we have become the words we speak. The word we speak shape the actions we take. The actions we take form the habits we develop. The habits we develop reveal the character we possess. The character we possess shapes our destiny.” We Christians are asked to take all that and ask, “Do the thoughts, words, actions, habits and character we display reflect the image of God, the likeness of Christ to others?”
“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!” (Luke 12:49) Our gospel text is not one you find on many refrigerator doors or on greeting cards. The image of Jesus in these text is upsetting to one who only seeks the meek and mild Jesus. Having begun with an exhortation to courage in the face of tribulation, continuing with a warning against avarice in the face of fear, Jesus now raises the issue of judgment. The people are called to conversion before it is too late.
Throughout Luke 12 Jesus has continued to call for people to “see,” a message that has been present since the beginning of the mission of the 72 others in the beginning of Luke 10. A message made clear upon their return: “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.” (Luke 10:23-24). Along the continuing journey to Jerusalem each person becomes an opportunity for Jesus to help them (and the crowds) to see more clearly, more richly: the scholar of the Law in Luke 10:25 ff; Martha and Mary (vv.38-42); the disciples in Luke 11, as well as the Pharisees in that same encounter; and Jesus continually speaks so that they will become “rich in what matters to God” (Luke 12:21). But in the end a decision is always needed. Continue reading