Homily on Luke 12:49 53 by Father Raphael Iannone
Luke 12:49-53 I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am till it is accomplished! Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division. For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three. Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.
This is a real mystery of faith. Jesus of Nazareth – loves, heals, tells people God offers wholeness of life.
The religious leaders rejected Jesus instantly, not hearing what Jesus was saying. Why would they reject Him like this? Because of fear, anger, and hatred.
A poll done in the twentieth century asked the respondents if Jesus came back, how would he be treated. They stated that He would be killed again and more quickly than during Jesus’ time.
Working within us is something that resists the Gospel and something that attracts us to the Gospel. We are drawn to New Life, but there is a part of us that resists change and that part rises up fear, anger, and hatred within us.
Jesus – the one who loves also brings fire.
We tell Jesus to keep out of our lives, we don’t want the fire that brings change.
Robert Bell speaks of the mysteries of the Bible. That Jesus touches lepers, hears the cry of blind Bartimaeus, dines with tax collectors, and talks with the Samaritan Woman (someone He was culturally not supposed to speak with). Jesus goes to the edge, bumps against the margin.
He reaches out to those who are in trouble, who are despised, weak, ignored.
Jesus is the living, breathing evidence that God wants everyone reached, saved, and touched by His presence.
Jesus challenges the conventional wisdom that God only wanted to deal with the select few (the Israelites). He confronted the system and showed that God wanted to reach everyone.
Jesus fulfilled what was prophesied about Him, and that provoked those who were in charge of the Temple, for their power was challenged. This led to Jesus’ arrest, trial and execution.
Jesus is an example of what it means to put new wine in old wineskins – the fire of the Spirit purifies the soul of self-centeredness and pride, which is the root of our enmity and hostility.
Jesus doesn’t stand for status quo. The status quo needs to be changed so we can (with God’s help) bring about what ought to be. Some will accept this transformation; others will reject it.
Quote inscribed on an Anglican Bishop’s tomb:
“When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world.
As I grew older and wiser I discovered the world would not change –
So I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country, but it too seemed immovable.
As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it.
And now I realize as I lie on my deathbed, if I had only changed myself first, then by example I might have changed my family. From their inspiration and encouragement I would then have been able to better my country,
And who knows, I might have even changed the world.”
When we change ourselves we change our family, our nation and the world. It is difficult to change our lives. We hesitate when we realize we need to change. It makes us uneasy and we find change threatening.
Jesus is asking for substantial change –to be called upon, to renounce what we have made our own, to renounce our anchor.
Father Raphael told a joke about a man who was dating a woman
The woman told him to stop smoking – he changed and stopped smoking.
She told him to stop drinking – he changed and stopped drinking.
She told him to stop swearing – he changed and stopped swearing.
She told him to stop gambling – he changed and stopped gambling.
After two years he never married her. When asked why, he said, “I reformed so much that I figure I can do better than her.”
Repent and believe in the Good news. This brings with it demands for rebirth, renewal, and change – a change of heart, a change beneath our surface.
As we follow the reign of God in our lives we will forgive those who have hurt us, we will pray for those who mistreated us, bless those who hate us, humble ourselves, become compassionate for those we may think unworthy of compassion.
Dedicate ourselves to change and don’t stay with the status quo. When we work on changing ourselves, we provide an example to others that they can follow and also change. By changing ourselves, we influence our family, our neighbors, our friends, and the world.
But not everyone will change – there will be division in families when some members change and others don’t.
Be filled with the Spirit and let God change us deep within. We need God’s Grace to reorder our life. God will help us to change and that change will affect our neighbors, friends, family, and the world.
Hoping you had a wonderful Sunday.