10.3.17 Tues. wk. 26 – O.T. – (I) 1st Rdg . Zachariah 8: 30 – 23
Gospel – Luke 9: 51 – 56
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. The Gospel of the Lord.
Fr. Mike Murphy How do You Follow †Jesus?
Today’s Scripture presents us with two different ways that people follow †Jesus. The prophet Zachariah wrote: “The people might say to us: ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’” (8:23) Zachariah was a prophet during the exile and he envisioned that when the Israelites returned home to Jerusalem, many of the pagans, the Babylonians, would want to follow them back to Jerusalem. The fidelity of the Israelites to God, if they continued to give a good example of their faith and trust in God, would lead pagans to believe in the God of Israel. And they would grab the garment of a Jew (which was the symbol of discipleship) and they would want to follow that person home to Jerusalem. Didn’t anyone ever do that to you? Didn’t anyone ever want to follow you here to Sacred Heart? They experienced the faith because of your love and mercy and compassion that you expressed and they wanted to share in that and so they said: “Can I go to church with you?” Have you ever had that experience?
Then we have the other way. This is the way that James and John followed †Jesus into that Samaritan town. They were not welcomed by people, as you know, because the Samaritans and the Jews hated one another. So, ‘The Sons of Thunder’ wanted to call down the wrath of God upon those people to destroy those Samaritans. James and John, their misguided reaction was a bit understandable; they had left everything to follow †Jesus. They had seen the power of †Jesus cure diseases, feed a thousand people, and calm the seas. They believed in †Jesus and everywhere they went the people came out of their towns, they gave them free food and free housing because †Jesus was so popular. Now that they were not welcomed in this town, they probably knew they were going to have to sleep in a tent somewhere in the Jordan River Valley instead of a nice warm house. They were a bit mad about all that. They wanted the Samaritans to pay for their disrespect.
But what did †Jesus do? He would not force Himself on the Samaritans. And He would not lecture them as to why they should believe in Him. That wasn’t His way. Instead †Jesus rebuked James and John because they were not acting like His disciples. It was as if they didn’t hear a word †Jesus had preached. †Jesus came to witness to the mercy of God, not the vengeance of God. And when people did reach out to touch †Jesus, to grab his garments and to follow him, it was because of His love and hope that He brought to the people. That’s what attracted them to †Jesus.
We will not attract people to †Jesus or we will not attract people to our faith unless we imitate the love, the mercy and compassion of †Jesus in our life. If we act like religious bullies or like modern-day Pharisees, no one will follow us to the table of the Lord.
Pope Francis calls us to “accompany”; to accompany people on the ‘Journey of Faith.’ We don’t condemn them because they lack the gift of faith. We do not walk away frustrated when they refuse to follow †Jesus the way we want them to. The disciple of †Jesus lets go of their own ego, and their own pride, and they respect the freedom of others to believe what they want to believe. There is no attempt to control or manipulate that person into faith in †Jesus.
The most powerful witness is the power of love, the love of †Jesus, a sacrificial, a merciful, a compassionate and a patient love of others. The disciple invites dialogue. The disciple is not afraid to share their faith with others, even those who disagree. How many of us, when Jehovah witnesses come to our door, we don’t answer it? We are afraid to talk to them. We could just open the door and say: “Hi how are you, I’m a Christian. Let’s talk about Mary.” Above all, we need to invite them by the way we live; our personal witness to the life of Christ. That’s the most potent proof of our faith.
Pope Paul VI once said: “It is wrong to impose the Gospel, but we are called to propose the truth of the Gospel.” Love others as you have been loved by †Jesus, and they will follow you to the Sacred Heart of †Jesus.
In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.