Gospel Reflections (Luke 12:49-53)

What is this? Jesus came to bring peace and harmony, to perfect the unity of society and families. How is it then that he can here say exactly the opposite? And without apology! There is no, ‘I am afraid there may sometimes be disagreements in the family’. Rather, ‘I have come to bring disagreements in the family’. To make things worse, in Judaism the family is the basic unit which sticks together through thick and thin. Any Jew will be thoroughly shocked by this passage. We have seen repeatedly that Jesus’ statements are often fierce and extreme: ‘If your hand causes you to fall, cut it off’; ‘Let the dead bury their dead’. Elsewhere he says ‘It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven’ – and the traditional let-out clause that he is talking about a small gate in Jerusalem is simply wrong; there was no such gate! Jesus is teaching that the most sacred earthly ties are less important than loyalty to the Lord. He chooses the family as an example deliberately because it is so sacred and important, but even so, following Jesus who leads us into all truth is more important still. What are the hardest circumstances in which you have to make decisions for or against the demands of Jesus?

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