Speaking TO and working THROUGH – Saturday, 28th week in ordinary time – Lk 12:8-12
Luke’s congregation was battered by opposition from within and without; from within, the community was divided by cultural and religious differences which they professed before they became followers of Christ. To compound matters this ‘little flock’ also had to face persecution from their Roman overlords. This section of Luke’s Gospel which began in 12: 1 and ends in verse 59 will highlight the great challenges that the people of ‘the way’ were faced with.
To a community under threat, lying low would make good sense. Yet the Lord demands boldness from His disciples, a boldness to testify and acknowledge Him before men. Luke, in recalling the words of the Master, strengthens the fledgling faith of this congregation yet at the same time holding them to the high standards of heaven.
The call of Jesus is not necessarily to be a street corner Bible wielding Christian; that ministry laudable as it is may be is not be every ones cup of tea. However a simple examination of consciousness at the end of the day will enlighten our minds of the Lord’s presence in our day. That protection, peace and presence which we take for granted, must be shared with others and in that we “acknowledge Jesus before men” (verse 8). It is not by our strength that we accomplish the many challenges of life but we do so by His Grace. When we foolishly attribute every success to ourselves then we bring condemnation upon ourselves, thus denying Him before men.
Chapter twelve is also a reminder to the disciples that the persecutions faced by the community found resonance with the persecution faced by Jesus. However there are Rubicon’s one does not cross and the Jews in their constant attack of Jesus had done that on several occasion. In their hate for Jesus they had often attributed the miracles He had worked to the evil spirit of Beelzebul when in fact it was through the Holy Spirit. It is this blasphemy that Jesus says will never be forgiven. While strengthening this community under attack, Luke also strengthens their faith, for God’s Holy Spirit is within them.
It is for this reason that they should not be afraid when dragged before synagogues and rulers for the same Spirit that worked through Jesus will work through them, “teaching them what to say at that very hour.” This text must not be misinterpreted by preachers or Bible teachers who may be in the habit of not preparing their homily; preachers who hope to find inspiration at the last minute while standing in the pulpit.
In all of this, Luke aims to strengthen and motivate his persecuted community. Through their persecution, the Lord is speaking TO them but even more working THROUGH them.
Fr Warner D’Souza