Gospel Reflection for June 26, 2022 – 13th Sunday Ordinary Time

Sunday Readings: 1 Kings 19.16, 19-21, Galatians 5.1, 13-18, Luke 9.51-62

As the days were being fulfilled for Jesus to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. He sent messengers on ahead of him. On their way they entered a Samaritan town to prepare for his passing through, but the Samaritans would not welcome him because his face was set toward Jerusalem. His disciples James and John saw this and asked, “Jesus, do you want us to call down fire from heaven and destroy them?” Jesus turned and rebuked James and John, and they went on to another town (Luke 9.51-56).

The journey theme unifies the next ten chapters of Luke’s gospel. Events on this journey repeat a pattern of fulfillment and rejection that Luke sees in Israel’s history and wants us to see in Jesus’ life. Jesus’ first sermon in Nazareth introduces the pattern when Jesus reads from the prophet Isaiah and claims he is the one the Spirit has anointed to bring good news to the poor and inaugurate a year of God’s favor. His hometown folks reject his claim.

Similarly, in Sunday’s gospel, the people in the first town Jesus visits on his way to Jerusalem reject him. These Samaritans refuse to worship God in Jerusalem and refuse to associate with people who do. James and John want to respond to the Samaritan’s inhospitable attitude with fire. Jesus restrains them. The disciples have a lot to learn.  

A new community of faith is forming on this journey. Two people ask to join Jesus’ company, and Jesus invites a third to follow him. But they have personal affairs to settle before they become disciples. No one who puts a hand to the plow and keeps looking back is fit for the reign of God, Jesus insists. Faith in Jesus is a relationship so basic it supersedes and underlies all others. Jesus invites us to follow him. Now is always the time to live his mission of good news for people who are poor, of compassion, and forgiveness.

If Jesus came through your town this week, how would your faith community receive him?