Bearing Wrongs Patiently
June 26, 2022 (readings)
- Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
- Janet Scanlan
When the days for Jesus’ being taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem, and he sent messengers ahead of him. On the way they entered a Samaritan village to prepare for his reception there, but they would not welcome him because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from Heaven to consume them?” Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village. As they were proceeding on their journey someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus answered him, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.” And to another he said, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.” But he answered him, “Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.” And another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home.” To him Jesus said, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God.”
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, following you and being your disciple is often challenging and difficult. I am here in this time of prayer, to listen and to learn how to imitate you, to make your will my own, and to put aside all my excuses. Help me to be docile and attentive to what you are asking of me today.
Spreading the Message of Love: Here Christ began his journey to Jerusalem where he upended the old law of “an eye for an eye,” and replaced it with self-emptying love. The Jews and Samaritans had been at war for centuries, just as today there are still wars in our country, our world, and even in our own hearts. As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said, “the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.” The way of Christ is infinitely gentler and infinitely more difficult. He calls us to look mercifully at the faults of others but to examine carefully our own. Christ knows that people are never converted by violence. We won’t convert others by telling them they are wrong, but by showing them Christ. “Where you don’t find love, sow love…and you will reap abundant love” (St. John of the Cross).
Nowhere to Lay Our Heads: The stakes are high for a follower of Christ. We know we are to love each other as Christ loved us, but how that plays out in our lives just isn’t always clear. It’s often hard to get our footing while following Christ and, again and again, we find it challenging to be in the world but not of the world. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Lutheran minister and prisoner of conscience during the Nazi regime, spoke of the danger of “cheap grace”—grace without discipleship and grace without the cross. When Christ calls us, he calls us to die. As the Master goes, so go his disciples. When we face the demands of living a Christian life and are tempted to look back and long for the “fleshpots of Egypt” as the Israelites did, we need the Lord’s help to persevere in doing the Father’s will.
Saying Farewell: To follow Christ means to live in a constant state of conversion. We are continually leaving the old life behind and becoming a new creation in Christ. “Behold, I make all things new” (Revelation 21:5). We walk in this world, but with the laws of another world in our hearts. As a result, our life in this world is a constant spiritual battle, and we each must decide, daily, whose army we will fight in. We must learn to forgive, to love and not count the cost, to die to ourselves, and to live for others. We eschew earthly treasures but gain security and identity in Christ. Slowly, we stop looking back at what we’ve given up and left behind. We are too excited about what lies ahead: eternal life—which is like “swimming in an ocean of infinite love” (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi).
Conversing with Christ: Lord, you are always thinking of and loving me at every moment of every day. Help me to believe this! Help me to trust in your plan for my life. Help me to empty my heart of all that is not of you, and be open to the grace you want to pour into my heart today. Help me to see you in all that happens to me, and to be generous and courageous in witnessing to your love in my life. Please give me the grace and courage I need to bring your saving message to those I meet on my journey today.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will try to forgive and bear wrongs patiently.
For Further Reflection: Review the spiritual works of mercy.
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