A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke.
When the days for Jesus to be 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.
Good News Reflection:
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus rebukes the disciples for wanting to rebuke the Samaritans. Why is it okay for Jesus to do it but not the disciples?
The disciples were no doubt remembering the fire and brimstone that God rained down on Sodom and Gomorrah to destroy the sinners who lived there. It seemed right, therefore, to expect God to punish and obliterate the Samaritans who were rejecting Jesus. We think the same way whenever we interpret natural disasters and diseases as the justice of a punishing God.
But Jesus had come to redeem the world, not condemn it. His presence on earth marked the beginning of a new era, a new testament of God’s love. Mercy had arrived on earth in the flesh of Jesus Christ. The fire that would descend from heaven would be the Holy Spirit.
Rebukes can be condemnatory or salvific, sinful or saving. Like most Jews, the disciples had been raised with a prejudice against Samaritans because they combined the Jewish faith with pagan practices. The feeling of contempt was mutual, which is why the Samaritans would not allow Jesus and his entourage to stay in their village. The disciples reacted angrily with a swift judgment that condemned the Samaritans to death. If Jesus had agreed to destroy the village, his disciples would have enjoyed the catastrophe.
Jesus responded to their anger with a rebuke that came from love. He was saving them from their sin.
When you see someone get their due punishment, do you enjoy it or do you suffer with them? When a murderer gets executed, when an irresponsible employee gets fired, or when a priest ends up in prison for abusing a child, how should we feel about it?
If we love them as Jesus loves them, it pains us to watch them reap bad consequences from the bad harvest they have sown. We sincerely hope that their sufferings will help them repent. We show them mercy, but we don’t remove their accountability.
The disciples lacked this attitude of mercy. Did Jesus enjoy scolding them? Of course not. He was pained by their prejudice, not only because he cared about the Samaritans, but he also cared about his disciples and the damage that their prejudice was doing to their own souls.
We must speak up against wrong-doings — God holds us accountable if we don’t — and we must put a stop to them if we can or else we are enablers of these sins. However, do we care about the wrong-doers as much as we care about the victims? Can we pray with sincerity in our hearts for a change in their hearts, not because a change in them will make our lives easier, but for their sake? If the answer is yes, then we are ready to be God’s instruments for justice.
Lord, may I never stand in opposition to Your merciful plans. Give me Your loving feelings towards others. Amen.
© 2017 by Terry A. Modica