Readings: 1 Kings 19:19-21; Psalm 16:1-11; Gal 5:13-18; Luke 9:51-62
Today’s Gospel feels harsh. All the more so for those of us who are grieving the loss of loved ones. So let’s dig a little deeper. The Gospel begins by saying that ‘the days for Jesus’ being taken up were fulfilled’. Readers and listeners at that time were expecting the end times imminently. This sets an important context. If the end is coming soon, what are you going to do? Will you commit to what you believe and live that out? Or will you be half-hearted?
In the spirit of end-times judgment, James and John were happy to judge the Samaritan village (remember the Samaritans are mortal enemies of the Jews) – but Jesus ‘rebuked them’. We hear the echo from elsewhere in the scriptures – leave judgment to God.
So we return to the tough stuff. If the world is ending, do you commit? In this context, those interacting with Jesus come up short. They are half-hearted. We are not in end-times but do well to question our own commitment in faith. Do I live what I believe?
This can be contrasted with the call of the prophet Elisha who responded to God’s call through Elijah after first tending to his family with an action that clearly demonstrated a break with his former life on the land. Hard to plough when the plough has been burned up!
The second reading picks up on the theme of living what I believe in two ways. We hear the oft-repeated phrase to ‘love your neighbour as yourself’. To live that I must behave with self-respect as well as be respectful in my dealings with others. This is a constant challenge – on one front or both. The other point is about being whole-hearted in living what we believe rather than doing it when we feel like it.
As we return to ‘ordinary time’, it is good to ponder such daily challenges of faith.