Jeremiah 23:16-29, Hebrews 11:17-12:3, Luke 12:49-53
Alleluia. Is not my word like fire, declares the Lord? What has straw in common with wheat? Alleluia.
Life in the church also follows a rhythm full of signs that predict what is right around the corner. During the summer months of the long, green season of Pentecost, we hear about the miracles, parables and teachings of Jesus. Many of these readings include the popular stories about the life of Christ we learned as children. But then, out of the blue, about this time of year, we encounter a reading that reminds us of what lies ahead in the late fall readings about the end of the times. This week’s readings do just that.In the Gospel, Jesus announces that he has come to cast fire on the earth and cause divisions among families. In the Old Testament reading, Jeremiah announces that the Lord declares his word to be like fire, a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces, one that will punish false prophets and those who follow them. He even poses this question, “What has straw in common with wheat?”
At first, this may seem like an odd question to ask, when talking about the false prophets in the church. In reality, it is a harsh reminder of the destruction that can come from false teachers. Straw and wheat come from the same plant but when the harvest comes, one is gathered and the other is left behind. This is the warning that Jesus gives to the people to whom Jeremiah is preaching; be careful to whom you listen for some prophets may look and speak like they have been sent by God but their teachings will cause you to become like the straw that is left behind in the harvest. Instead, get your nourishment from the true prophets, those who speak the Word of God, for they will nurture you and cause you to grow in preparation for the harvest. Then, when the harvest comes you will be gathered in with the wheat for safe keeping.
It is all too easy in our world to hear the preaching of false prophets that promises many things that fill those who listen with vain hopes. In this midst of the cacophony of false prophets, we can still hear the prophets of God speak and their message is the same as always, “Look to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Look to Jesus, the wind is blowing through the stubble and the end is at hand.
Merciful Lord, cleanse and defend Your Church by the sacrifice of Christ. United with Him in Holy Baptism, give us grace to receive with thanksgiving the fruits of His redeeming work and daily follow in His way; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing! Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.