History by its very definition is an account of the past which while a recording of, cannot be separated from the time and events of the day in which it is written, or for that matter, read. Likewise, history’s account is influenced by the author’s own perspective. And so it is with Luke, who while conditioned by traditions that he has inherited, is focused on his goals for relating the story of Jesus to his community.
Luke’s Gospel (Luke 12:49-56) appears to be a departure from his preceding accounts. In earlier writings he reminds us not to be “foolish” and to be at the ready but He also tells us that the God’s Kingdom is ours. So how does this all fit with Jesus’ stern message when he says I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!
As stated earlier, all history is written backwards; yet, what we learn from history is projected forward and applied to our experience. As interesting as the historical context of Luke’s day may be, we ask what we can learn from this account and what does it say about us and our lives today. Jesus’ words set in the time of Luke were written for an audience that lived almost a century after Jesus died. This period reflects the turmoil of Luke’s day: there was wealth; poverty; political domination; dissension among the ranks of the new Christian communities, and a growing impatience created by the delay of Jesus’ anticipated return.
No doubt that Luke is providing insight for what is in store for Jesus as he makes his way to Jerusalem. Here, we get a glimpse of Jesus’ humanity as he reveals and what stress I am under until it is completed! Jesus proclaims that the Kingdom of God is a “new world order” that is centered on the power of love not the love of power. As with the “rich fool” those governed by wealth, status and power will live in a “house divided" on so many different levels. Families, nations and communities will live in turmoil. There is no other way to peace but through love, forgiveness and humility. So, what can we learn from this Gospel in 2013?