June 30, 2019: Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading: Luke 9:51-62
When the days for Jesus’ being taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem, and he sent messengers ahead of him.
On the way they entered a Samaritan village to prepare for his reception there, but they would not welcome him because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem.
When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village.
As they were proceeding on their journey someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”
Jesus answered him, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.”
And to another he said, “Follow me.”
But he replied, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.”
But he answered him, “Let the dead bury their dead.
But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
And another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home.” To him Jesus said, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”
At first glance, today’s Gospel seems to be about the selection of an elite band of followers. In addition, the timing window for the decision is instantaneous. Drop everything and go follow Jesus or you aren’t good enough, so just forget the idea forever.
Is it any wonder that hungry, exhausted, and caught up in that whirlwind environment the disciples succumb to the temptation to call forth fire and brimstone on the Samaritans who will not provide for them? Didn’t those Samaritans just reject their opportunity? Don’t they deserve such a fate?
Jesus knows the disciples missed a number of key points about his teaching that what they have being enough for all. Especially the point about God’s love for all His children. Jesus rebukes them for their attitudes of elitism and entitlement.
Let’s take a deeper look at what is revealed in the tales of those who had said they would like to follow Jesus. Jesus’ words really serve to clarify what lies on the road ahead. Followers must have their priorities set appropriately (let the dead bury the dead). There will be times of feeling as if one does not belong anywhere (nowhere to lay one’s head) and that one cannot move forward with the call and journey if one is constantly looking back and wondering.
These are not rejections. Instead, they are clarifications on some of the finer points of the decision that must be made. What is the message in what happened to those who were selected, but then made another decision? They received mercy. They were also asked to learn to provide mercy to others.
Choosing to follow Jesus means making a commitment that throughout the journey one is willing to grow in understanding of what it means to live in and to share God’s unconditional love with all of God’s children.
In our world, some days it seems mercy is on the endangered list. This week, for one irksome situation, instead of anger or judgement, let us make a conscious decision to be a peacemaker living in mercy. Spread the word.