GOSPEL MESSAGE & RECORDING
In the Gospel Reading today we hear that Jesus had his face “set to Jerusalem.” What that means, figuratively, is that Jesus was focused on his mission: giving his life over for the salvation of the world. On his way to accomplish that mission, traveling to Jerusalem by foot, he wanted to stop by a Samaritan village with his disciples and lodge there for the evening to get some rest. The Gospel of Luke records that the village did not receive Jesus; and so the disciples James and John, upon seeing this asked Jesus if they should, like Elijah, call fire to come down and consume the village. Jesus, in reply said, “You do not know what spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy lives but to save them.” (St. Luke 9: 55-56)
Here, we see that the Samaritan village rejected Jesus. They give him no consideration. In other words, they “paid him no mind.” We might even say they “ignored” him. Often this occurs in our life in various circumstances and situations; and like James and John, we want to react quickly and take “revenge” on those who “rejected” us, “hurt” us, or simply “ignored” us. But Christ called his followers, like he did for James and John, not to take revenge but “think higher” and consider that we are here on earth to witness the love and salvation of God.
When we think of taking “revenge” we are often inclined of thinking about physically hurting someone, because the word is used in that context almost all the time. But here, what I would like to do is NOT focus on revenge as a physical action, but rather, as an emotional and verbal action. I mean this in both ways—the one giving and the one receiving.
When someone hurts us by either saying something about us…ignoring us…not including us…as Christians we are called by Christ not to seek “revenge.” So then what are we called to do?
Know who you are: In other words, remember always that we follow Christ (like James and John); and if we want to follow Christ, we have to represent him appropriately. For example, let us say that someone hurt us by saying something that is very hurtful. Do we immediately say something hurtful back to them? If the hurtful words were done without us being there, do we call around to everyone and give a “piece of our mind” about how we feel about the other person? This type of behavior does not lead the other person to repentance; rather it makes the problem bigger and worse. Christ reminds us that he came to save. Similarly, we are called to save others, not seek revenge on them by our words. If we are in the “right,” no words spoken can come against us. The Bible says, “no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed…this is the heritage of the servants of the LORD and their vindication from me, declares the LORD.” (Isaiah 54:17) Finally, when you know you are in Christ, you leave revenge up to the Lord. The Bible says, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves…for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)
Think: Often, when we get angry and we want to immediately say what is on our mind. Rather than doing that why not let our minds settle down, so that we can think clearly and rationally, so as to make a wise decision about talking to the other person about how they hurt us…rejected us…or ignored us? It’s always better to pray about it first before speaking. Further, it is also possible that we need to fast to seek God’s guidance in regard to how respond appropriately.
Keep going: It’s interesting to note that in the Gospel reading Jesus kept walking toward Jerusalem. In life there will always be “distractions.” As Christians, we have to keep moving. Either we can let the words or actions of others deter our faith in God; or we can keep moving. I don’t mean to say that we need to be ignorant or play “dumb.” But rather, continue on with what we are doing in life with a peaceful confidence that the Lord will fight our battles for us.