Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle C

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

"I came not to bring peace, but rather division"

Strange words to hear coming from Jesus! He came to proclaim the Reign of God not to cause trouble or division. It was his mission to announce and demonstrate that God's love is freely given to everyone - saints and sinners, Jews and Gentiles. The message of his words and of his deeds is quite clear - whoever you are, God loves you; accept His love and allow yourself to be changed by the power of that love.

However, this inclusiveness was not well received by the religious establishment. For many ordinary people his message was a source of hope and of new life, as he reached out beyond accepted boundaries, broke conventional taboos, and touched the lives of previously untouchable people. But his life and his teaching also shocked some and infuriated others, especially the religious leaders, because it challenged the very foundations of their way of life. People who meticulously observed the Law and all its derivatives could not cope with someone who put love before law.

People were divided. Jesus became a source of conflict, a man of love who radiated goodness, or a threat to stability, an object of scorn and of opposition. The opposition grew in strength but his message stood firm; he would not compromise. In this he presents a challenge to us. To meet the demands of true love is costly. You cannot reduce the Gospel to some sort of cosy all-embracing feel-good factor, devoid of any challenge. When that happens, the fire has gone out, the leaven has lost its power, the salt has lost its taste, the light has grown dim.