Reflection for the ninth Sunday after Trinity and the weather.
”You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?” Jesus, in today’s Gospel Luke 12:48-56, NRSV.
“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.” Sir Ranulph Fiennes.
The Brits are known for their frequent talk of the weather, which is reflected in the language used too. People talk of a storm in a tea cup, being on cloud nine, saving for a rainy day, feeling under the weather or being long winded. That’s partly because the weather in the UK is unpredictable as Britain is at an intersection of Arctic winds from the north, tropical winds from the south, wet winds from the west and continental winds from the east. This creates very varied weather conditions, in contrast to those Jesus is referring to in today’s Gospel.
In Galilee, clouds to the west would indicate rain whilst a southerly wind would bring sultry heat. With fishermen amongst the disciples, they would know this and yet Jesus implies that they are unable to read the signs of the times or see what is happening all around them. Jesus’ ministry is evolving in the context of the Roman occupation, the machinations of Herod Antipas, the resentment of the people, the quarrelling of the religious leaders and the hostility he is facing. He warns of disaster, of fire, division and judgement – his message is not political, but it has political consequences and the Prince of Peace now warns that even families will be divided in their response to him. Jesus calls the crowds following him hypocrites – why, he asks, can’t they see what’s happening?
Given that, today, exceptionally hot weather is causing extensive wild fires and drought, with social unrest being experienced due to the cost of living, strikes and political strife, what Jesus says is pertinent. Every generation has to read the wider signs of the times and respond to them – division and disagreement has always resulted, as well as change and progress. What matters is the response to it and how it is handled. Today, with climate change being contested, the cost of utilities rocketing, the potato and grain crops being affected by lack of rain and even some cheese suppliers warning they may be unable to fulfil their orders, there is a need not only to read the signs of the times but do something about them. In this context the words of Jesus, who called himself the Good Shepherd, need to be heeded. And so a familiar weather saying takes on a new resonance:
Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight; red sky at morning, Shepherd’s Warning.
With my prayers; pob bendith,