The Gospel reading today is quite dark, with Jesus speaking a kind of ‘tough’ or ‘enraged’ love. We see Jesus in chapter 12 of St. Luke’s Gospel now on his way to Jerusalem. The journey to Jerusalem that will end in his crucifixion and death. He is anxious and distraught at what is to come, and importantly seems to be increasingly frustrated that his message has not been understood and acted on by his disciples to date. He exclaims: “I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were blazing already!” (Lk 12:49)
We should never try and hide or downplay the scandal of the Cross. Christianity is a religion that worships the individual whom humanity labels a criminal, the one on the margins, the ostracised, the powerless. No other religion worships the ‘human loser’ like we do! It is precisely this fact that sees Jesus pleading with his disciples, in making the point to them, that all human preconceptions of power, status, influence and success need to be abandoned. Jesus’ radical message comes in seeing the victim, the poor and the oppressed, as the pathway to God. “Do you suppose that I am here to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” (Lk 12:51)
Humanity and the Church has never fully comprehended the enormity of Jesus’ revolutionary thinking. Our Church is currently going through a period where aspects of institutional influence and popularity are eroding. This can be difficult to see. Yet, it is not necessarily a bad thing. If we believe in purification as a means of future growth, and greater assimilation to the ‘tough love’ message we hear in today’s Gospel, then there is always hope.
We pray that we as a community, we as a Church in the image of Jesus Christ, allow this type of ‘tough love’ message of Christ to permeate my consciousness and allow an abandonment of privilege and prestige. In place of that status, I am then in the image of Christ when I stand up for the powerless, the frail and elderly, those addicted, and the young, fragile and defenceless in my society.