“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 (Lk 9:54-56).
Jesus and those traveling with him to Jerusalem were not welcomed by those they came upon in Samaria. James and John made this statement as a reaction to the rejection of the Samaritans. Many of us act in similar ways when we have been rejected, offended, or not shown hospitality. When the offense comes from someone outside of our group, we feel even more justified.
“Jesus turned and rebuked” James and John for their violent reaction. To follow Jesus meant and means for us that we are to set our ego aside, we are to set our knee-jerk reactions aside, and we are to set our seeking of revenge and vengeance aside. The way of Jesus is the way of love and non-violence. This makes no sense if we define love merely as an emotion or some warm and fuzzy feeling. Jesus commands that we are to love our neighbor and to love our enemies.
To do so, means that we are to will each other’s good. At the first moment of conflict with another we need to resist entering into a defensive posture, we are to resist caving in or withdrawing in upon ourselves, but instead we are to assume an openness, and embrace a posture of understanding.
There are so many people that are hurting, that are dealing with wounds, issues and are weighed down by years of emotional baggage, that not only we are not aware of, but they themselves may not be aware of. We do not know what another is going through or how they are suffering. When the offensive word. action, or lack of reaching out to us comes, and they will come, the easy response is to react negatively in kind, but if we do so, Jesus will rebuke us as he rebuked James and John in today’s Gospel account.
Jesus commands that we are to love one another as he loves us. We are to see in our everyday encounters, people with dignity and worth, even though, like us, they may be wounded and afraid. We are not to see someone as other, but a brother or sister. If we are not able to do so, then we can call on Jesus to love the person through us. We do not have to give in to our fears, our prejudices, or act from our own woundedness. We can be a little kinder to ourselves and each other today, if we are willing to love as Jesus loves in and through us.
Painting: El Greco – The Savior of the World
Link for the Mass readings for Sunday, June 30, 2019: