Thirteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time - Cycle C
1st Reading – 1 Kings 19: 16b, 19-21
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 16: 1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11
2nd Reading – Galatians 5: 1, 13-18
Gospel – Luke 9: 51-62
In 721 BC, Sargon the Assyrian defeated the northern region of Israel and deported most of the native people. In their place, Sargon settled foreigners in the area known as Samaria. These newcomers intermarried with the remaining natives and had children whom the Judeans considered impure. They were social and religious “half breeds.” The Jews would have nothing to do with the unclean Samaritans.
Even when the Samaritans offered to help rebuild the temple in Jerusalem in 537 BC, the Judeans turned it down because of their dislike of the people. These guys did not like each other, and the hatred lasted centuries. In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus commands his disciples to “enter no town of the Samaritans.” Luke is a little more sympathetic and records Jesus rebuking the disciples for asking if they could punish the Samaritans for the rejection.
We are all called to be Children of Light; a call to service. Just like the disciples Jesus was speaking to in today’s gospel, there will be distractions along the way, but we are all called to focus on what is most important; proclaiming the word of God. Even the right things, the honorable things will have to fall in significance to this holy work. There is nothing wrong with burying or honoring your parents, but if it keeps you from doing the work of God, the work of today, then it must be surrendered.
Jesus also warns of the imminent rejection the disciples (and we) will face. We all have Samaritans in our lives. We all have people or groups of people that we have judged as unclean and/or unworthy. (Sometimes, those people are related to us.) We’ve all rejected and been rejected by our own Samaritans. Don’t tell me you haven’t asked God to “call down fire from heaven to consume them” at least once. We’ve all been there.
Freedom comes at a cost. As Americans, we should understand this sacrifice as so many have sacrificed everything for the political and religious liberties we enjoy today. The history of this nation has been a vivid example of the price of freedom. And not only is it our history, but it is also our present as well. We rely on the service of men and women working in the military and as first-responders to protect our freedoms and our very lives each and every day. Would we be willing to do the same?
The call to discipleship, the call to freedom, the call to service has several requirements. It demands a full commitment. You are called to a vocation, not an avocation. You must understand that there will be a cost to this discipleship. Something must be sacrificed, and it must be done with love for your neighbor.
Even those pesky Samaritans.
Presented in the gospel are three anonymous persons who desire to follow Jesus. Before they can, though, they tell Jesus that they must fulfill a prior obligation. Jesus says that to be a follower of his, one needs to be detached from the security of a home or from the comfort of things; to be separated from former responsibilities; to be detached from past relationships. Nothing is to stand in the way of a radical commitment to Jesus and the proclamation of the kingdom of God by one's life.
What attitudes, fears or past experiences in your life keep you from hearing or responding to the Lord's invitation to live the gospel? Be specific and concrete.
Where in your life do you hear the Lord inviting you to a greater response to the gospel?
Is the promise of God’s strength and His Grace and blessing enough for you as you accept the rejection and insecurity of following Jesus? Why or why not?
Who are the “Samaritans” in your life?