Romans 6: 19-23
Luke 12: 49-53
The gospel writers wrote into a world of conflict and change. Just as today, those seeking to follow Jesus were negotiating what it meant for them. Within families some would embrace the message wholeheartedly, others would struggle with the changes it meant to their lives. The differences in ideas and beliefs and the contest between God and the many gods present in the world caused clashes.
In 1997 the late Bishop Geoffrey Robinson wrote a book, Travels in Sacred Places. In it he explores the idea that Jesus sang a song in everything he said and did, and that this song was the most beautiful, love-filled song that the world has ever heard. The Song of Jesus has become a text in its own right, used by many groups for reflection. Bishop Robinson charts the history of the song as it has been passed down through the centuries. The original disciples, the gospel writers, continued to sing the song when Jesus returned to his Father. They didn’t sing it as well as Jesus but they sang to the best of their ability and passed the song down to others. The great saints sang the song with exquisite beauty and parents sang it to their children until eventually the song came to Australia. At first, the song was sung very badly here with the treatment of convicts and First Nations people and there continues to be room for improvement.
In the context of today’s gospel with Jesus saying that his message will cause division and conflict between families, Bishop Robinson speaks of the misuse of the song through the centuries. The song has been used to oppress and dominate, as an incentive to march to war because there is/was power in possessing it. The song has been argued about, fought over, distorted and covered with many layers of human additions.
Alison Gore is a parishioner at St Paul of the Cross, Glen Osmond. She works in education and formation.