Hear the word of the Lord,
you rulers of Sodom!
Listen to the teaching of our God,
you people of Gomorrah!
What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?
says the Lord;
I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
and the fat of fed beasts;
I do not delight in the blood of bulls,
or of lambs, or of goats. When you come to appear before me, who asked this from your hand?
Trample my courts no more; bringing offerings is futile;
incense is an abomination to me. New moon and sabbath and calling of convocation—
I cannot endure solemn assemblies with iniquity. Your new moons and your appointed festivals
my soul hates;
they have become a burden to me,
I am weary of bearing them. When you stretch out your hands,
I will hide my eyes from you;
even though you make many prayers,
I will not listen;
your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings
from before my eyes;
cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice,
rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan,
plead for the widow.
Psalm 50:8-9, 16-17, 21, 23
Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you;
your burnt offerings are continually before me.
I will not accept a bull from your house,
or goats from your folds.
“What right have you to recite my statutes,
or take my covenant on your lips?
For you hate discipline,
and you cast my words behind you.
These things you have done and I have been silent;
you thought that I was one just like yourself.
But now I rebuke you,
and lay the charge before you.
Those who bring thanksgiving as their sacrifice honor me;
to those who go the right way
I will show the salvation of God.”
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father,
and a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.
Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.
“Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”
Now when Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and proclaim his message in their cities.
The first lines of the Gospel sound a little disconcerting at first, but for anyone who follows Jesus, it becomes comforting. If you have enemies, it does not mean you are a failure at being a Christian, but a success.
In the Isaiah reading, we hear how God is so weary with the worship of evil-doers and sends Isaiah to speak to the people. The Gospel makes it clear that He wants us to do the same. Even if we don’t actually call out evil or call people to come higher, our very existence and our actions convict people of our allegiance. That is what God wants from us: total allegiance, and if we are aligned with the Lord, it is going to show.
Whether we like it or not, our discipleship is a sword of division. Like Isaiah the prophet, we invite people to change and in doing so, destroy their idols. It does not get a cheerful reaction from people. God can be silent and patient for a long time while people get away with what they are doing. But the time will come when God will speak. As the psalmist declares, “But now I rebuke you, and lay the charge before you.”
God makes demands of us, but the demands of God are what leads to life. We know it and we must share it.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, there is no good without You. Help me to continually detach myself from the world and its false promises of joy. May I accept my crosses with patience and give you praise in all things so that perchance my example may help another soul find eternal life in You. Amen