Pastor's Desk: 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time
This week’s article comes from Fr. Tom Cahill, writing for Intercom magazine.
It used to be the terrible teens. Now it’s the terrible tots. Crèches in Britain are suspending up to fourteen young children a day, aged five and younger, for physical assault. Incidents where testy tots use violence against classmates and teachers rose six per cent in a year.
I wonder what sort of tots the two disciples were in today’s Gospel reading (Luke 9:51-62). If they weren’t testy as tots they’re certainly testy as adults. Inflated with importance they assume a power to ‘command fire to come down from heaven’ (v. 54) and torch to death the inhabitants of a Samaritan village. Not very Christian that now, is it?
Though close to Jesus physically as his followers they aren’t yet close enough to him spiritually to recognise what sort of person and what sort of messiah he is. It seems there’s baggage blocking the way: religious baggage that inflates their sense of election, of being God’s own people to the exclusion of others; political baggage that expects a freedom-fighter messiah to liberate the Jews from Roman tyranny; and social baggage that cultivates an elitist mentality that seduces them into thinking they can ride rough-shod over people like the Samaritans whom they despise.
Some ancient authorities add, ‘as Elijah did’ to v. 54 about commanding fire from heaven. In response to this hankering for former ways and attitudes Jesus rebukes them. I wonder does he have any such rebuke for us today as we carry our baggage, whether it be personal, social or institutional in these testy and testing times?
Fr. Tom Cahill SVD, Divine Word Missionaries