Vol.5 No.42 DoM Gospel Reflection
13th Sunday Ordinary Time—Luke 9: 51-62
June 26, 2016
The first thing we notice in this reading is that Jesus “set His face” towards Jerusalem. To “set one’s face” is to be determined, to be resolute, to focus intently towards a certain goal. No doubting, no looking to the right or the left-looking straight ahead with no reservations! Why did Jesus do this? After all, He had many distractions-the crowd, the healings, the needy disciples. Why? Because He was all about His Father’s will, period! Nothing could deter Him from getting to His destiny-Jerusalem. Jerusalem has a prominent place in Luke’s gospel, as he begins and ends in the Jerusalem temple. This is the place of not only Jesus’ death, but also His Resurrection and Ascension.
As Jesus travels through the Samaritan village, He is gathering followers along the way. When the Samaritans would not accept Him, the disciples, characteristically, reacted with angry retaliation. Jesus, on the other hand, remained peaceful and calm. He did not spurn the rejection, He seemed to simply “shake it off’ and continued His travels. This is an interesting reaction that we could all take to heart. When we are spurned or ignored in our own lives, do we react like the disciples or like Jesus? Often, in our wounded pride, we follow along with the apostles, don’t we? Wouldn’t it be great if we could “shake it off” like Jesus did, knowing that our sense of pride and identity comes only from the Father and not from others’ opinions? When we follow the Spirit, we are filled with compassion for others, not anger, retaliation or bitterness. As in our first reading from Galatians, Paul says we are called for freedom…but not freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, rather to serve one another through love. Live by the Spirit, and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh, for the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.” Each time we are tempted to judge others as the disciples did, we must “set our face towards Jesus and follow the Spirit of mercy and compassion.
In Luke’s gospel, he puts a great deal of emphasis on the “cost of discipleship”. We would do well to ponder this cost more than most of us actually do. We need to remember that with the call to become more like our Lord includes both the cross and the resurrection. This journey through the Samaritan village is a fulfillment of Simeon’s prophesy that Jesus “would be opposed” and it is a foreshadowing of the events to unfold later in His passion. Later in the Gospel, Jesus went about gathering disciples who clearly were willing to follow Him, but at some times, His words to them seemed harsh, and uncharacteristically unmerciful to say the least! I wonder how many times the answers we seek from Jesus seem the same? Does He always tell us what we want to hear, or answer right away when we beg Him to help us? I would assume that the answer from most of you would be “NO”! Even though hard to hear, each of us needs to ponder the important message about the reality of discipleship. Christians everywhere need to be aware that there are difficult challenges connected to a journey with Jesus. Just as with the follower who wanted to delay his discipleship in order to bury his father, we can always make excuses to not follow the Lord at any given moment. How many times do we utter the words, “I’m too busy” or “I’ll do it next week” or “I’m too tired” and various other reasons we give for not “showing up” for Jesus or for the discipleship He calls us to. All sorts of life activities get in the way and separate us from a closer walk with Christ. After all, there is SO much demanding our attention! We have meetings to attend, bills to pay, husbands, children, and grandchildren to care for, jobs to attend to, elderly parents who need us, and on and on….!!! Why did Jesus give us all these earthly attachments if He didn’t want us to take care of them? When Jesus answers the men in the gospel, He is not being callous or sarcastic. He is simply pointing out in a graphic way the URGENCY of our need for the unfolding revelation of His grace and mercy. He doesn’t want us to miss the importance of His role in our lives! We must detach form earthly things in order to truly follow Him. The only way to keep His love alive in our hearts is by prayer, communion with Him and repentance when we fail to follow Him in love. A simple prayer in the midst of a busy day can fill us with His presence and set us back on our right course to return to Him.
What Jesus said and did on his restless and purposeful journey to Jerusalem-the city of His destiny-matters. It matters to you and it matters to me. It is crucial to our understanding of Christ’s role in our lives as Christian women, as sisters, as wives and mothers, as Daughters of Mary. What have we learned from this small story from Luke’s gospel? I believe that it might be that we will strive to “set our face” towards the Son of God in a new way. I believe that we can take hold of the need to detach from the flesh and attach to the Spirit. I believe that we may now live each day with a fresh hope towards the prize –embracing our own journey, our own courage and resolute determination to shake off all that lies behind and to press on towards our destiny-being one with our dear sweet Lord Jesus. Let us press on in running the race with our eyes set on Jesus the reason and author of our faith. Amen.