Gospel - September 30, 2014

Memorial of Saint Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church
LK 9:51-56

When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.

And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem.

When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”

But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village.

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright 1989, 1993, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Approved by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Reflection - September 30, 2014

Rejected and mistreated, with vengeance we wound one another, day after day.

In today’s reading, perhaps we hear an echo of our own suffering in the request of the humiliated James and John. We identify with these disciples because we long for justice, of course; but also because we have all felt the sting of rejection and we know the intoxicating pull of vengeance.

Yet Jesus rebukes this instinct for vengeance. Perhaps this rebuke reflected Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman, whom he met at Jacob’s well (John 4:1-26). That is to say, perhaps the very desire for vengeance was radically inconsistent with the reason Jesus set his face to Jerusalem—to inaugurate a new era when all humanity will be free to worship the Father in spirit and in truth, together.

It is easy to identify with the frustrated disciples and their experience of rejection. However, if we are honest, the ebb and flow of life just as often places us in the position of the Samaritan villagers. Excluded and rejected by the Jews, it is hardly a surprise that these particular Samaritans were not eager to receive a Jewish rabbi on his journey to Jerusalem. Rejection followed rejection, in a cycle of wounds and fractured fellowship.

Today, like the Samaritan villagers, we are personally addressed and invited to participate in Christ’s redemptive and reconciling work. Too often, however, we reject the invitation, because the pain of old wounds and ongoing injustice echoes in our humiliated hearts.

Jesus set his face toward Jerusalem. In doing so, he had no interest in nursing old grudges and tired prejudice. Rather, his concern was the restoration of broken fellowship. Perhaps the healing of our individual wounds of rejection begins with a confession of the way we have rejected and mistreated others. It is a call to conversion, where the truthful memory of our wounds and the wounds we’ve inflicted can be transformed into works of mercy—and thereby redeemed.

Miguel J. Romero
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Institute for Church Life

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Prayer - September 30, 2014

Dear Lord, help us be resolute in following through on our commitments. Let us have the wisdom to say “Yes” to what really matters and the discipline to keep our word. We ask your courage to say “No” to that which pulls us out of balance with you.

Father Stephen Gibson, C.S.C.

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