Zechariah 8: 20-23
Luke 9: 51-56
Elsewhere in Scripture we’re told that Jesus nicknamed James and John, “Sons of Thunder.” (Mark 3: 17) We’re not told why, but today’s Gospel passage gives us a hint. They’d been insulted by the cold reception they received from the Samaritans and they must have thought “Revenge will be sweet”. They also thought Jesus would sanction their calling down fire from heaven to annihilate their enemies.
Luke doesn’t tell us what Jesus said to them in reply – only that “he turned and rebuked them”. Maybe he didn’t say anything – just looked at them – but that look spoke volumes and reminded them of all he had taught them about loving their enemies. In any event, they left the Samaritans alone and set off for another town.
Are we sometimes like James and John, looking for revenge against those we think of as our enemies? Do we push for continuance of the death penalty in spite of all that the Church has said about the sanctity of all human life? In the so-called ‘War against Terror’ are we willing to deny human rights to anyone we consider a threat? In our politics, have we become so fixated on our side that we disparage what others think and believe and are unwilling to compromise for the greater good?
Let us be open to that look of Jesus that speaks volumes. Let us erase vengeance from our hearts and instead learn to love our enemies, do good to those who hurt us. This isn’t a plea for maudlin sentimentality. It is a call to be courageous in the face of evil, a call to overcome evil by good, a call to help others transform their lives, even as we strive to transform our own. Let us reject revenge and cast it out from our hearts, our cities, our nation. As we come to the table of Eucharist, let us pray for our enemies that they and we many learn to follow Jesus Christ more faithfully and lovingly”.
Fr. Damian Towey, CP is a member of the community at Our Lady of Florida Spiritual Center,North Palm Beach,Florida.