Tuesday, 26th Week in Ordinary Time           

            When the Samaritans refuse lodging for Jesus, James, and John take offense at it. They want to call down fire from heaven to consume them. They are angry with the Samaritans for insulting Jesus by their refusal.

            John Rose, in his gospel commentary, has this to say about the two: “Their zeal for Jesus needs to be appreciated, but their resentment needs to be discouraged and rebuked.” “And rightly did Christ rebuke them.” And Rose further comments: “Christ’s dispensation is the dispensation of grace.” “It is the Gospel of mercy and compassion, and such destructive actions proposed by the two are not suitable for God’s kingdom.”

            Although, the disciples show great zeal for Christ by their anger against the Samaritans who reject him, yet at their resentment Jesus rebukes them. Though they have been with Jesus for many months, still they have not learned their lessons well. The religion of Jesus is not the religion of vengeance, but of love.

            Christ came not to destroy people, but to save them. He came to destroy, not the people, but their fences and walls. The Gospel of Christ is to be propagated, not by sword and threat, but by persuasion, patience, and love. If the Samaritans refused the admission for Christ in their village, he would take another way and reach Jerusalem, where he would die even for those Samaritans.

            There are times when we are like James and John – we easily take offense at those who reject us. Somehow, we also want to call down fire from heaven to consume those who are antagonistic toward us. Today’s gospel message is reminding us that there is no room for vengeance in the religion of love we must be practicing. We bring the good news of the kingdom of God by our forbearing or patient love.

            When Abraham Lincoln was criticized for being too courteous to his enemies and reminded that it was his duty to destroy them, he gave the great answer, “Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” William Barclay has this commentary and reflection: “Even if someone is utterly mistaken, that person must never be regarded as an enemy to be destroyed but as a strayed friend to be recovered by love.”

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