for Sunday, August 14, 2016
In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood. - The Letter to the Hebrews tells us so directly that we must struggle against sin and keep on struggling and not complain. So many of us want the spiritual life to be an easy choice for Jesus Christ and no work afterward. That is not the teaching that Jesus gives us. Rather we must learn to take up our cross daily and turn to Jesus Himself for our help and keep on in the struggle.
The first reading today is from the Prophet Jeremiah and tells us what faithful to God brings about: torture, imprisonment, rejection, etc. So it should never surprise us that we must keep struggling! We must not think of Jeremiah simply accepting whatever God asks him to do. Instead, we know from other passages of this Prophet that he was also angry with God at times, reproaching God at times for treating him so badly-and yet always striving to do God's will. The Prophet Jeremiah does not even speak one word in today's passage!
The Letter to the Hebrews, from which today's second reading is taken, speaks also about this struggle but tells us to keep our eyes on Jesus, the leader and the perfecter of our faith. Some early monks encouraged those who were suffering to keep their eyes on Jesus but also on others who might be suffering more than they. This is the same message: there is a profound positive meaning in suffering if we are willing to embrace it.
The Gospel today is taken from Saint Luke and points out to us that our usual image of Jesus as sweet and loving needs a bit of correction. Today Jesus tells us in His own words: Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.
This division comes about because Jesus teaches a clear message of love for God and for all others. Not all of us accept this message and allow it to form us. Instead we continue to those who love us in return, we continue help those who already have enough and we continue to see our own good in preference to the good of others. People who are stubborn and try to follow Jesus are often rejected as being rigid or too tough or even unrealistic. Surely in today's political climate and cultural changes, a true Christian will be less and less acceptable. So many want to lessen the teachings of Jesus so that everyone will be happy, so that everyone will have the peace of no opposition.
Yet that kind of peace must be destroyed. Instead, the only peace that lasts comes from striving to do God's will and to live in accordance with God's words and God's teachings in the Scriptures.
As we celebrate Eucharist this Sunday, let us ask for courage and strength to stand with the teachings of our Church-the teachings of Jesus Himself. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
Readings of the day:
Reflections are available for the following Sundays: