Gospel Reflections

13th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Luke 9:51-62

Sunday Gospel Reflection by Sister Jane Dwyer

Published: June 26, 2016

Read Luke 9:51-62

When the days for Jesus’ being taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem, and he sent messengers ahead of him. Read More…

Today's Gospel places us in the shoes of those who are marginalized, excluded, impoverished, misled, and despised: the peasants struggling for a piece of land, immigrants from Syria, Africa, Latin America, indigenous peoples, abandoned street people and many others whom we see on television, in newspapers and on our street every day. The lives of these peoples are constantly threatened and violated... theirs is a life they have not chosen. Yet, even in these conditions there are many who continue the search and struggle for a better life, facing threats and unimaginable risks. There are too many whose lives are snuffed out in this search.

Jesus in today´s Gospel begins the journey to Jerusalem. His chosen route passes through Samaria. The Samaritan people are fearful of Jerusalem, for them a place of death, rejection, violence and persecution. They do not accept Jesus´ destination, will not help with the journey. The disciples react, wanting to punish and take revenge.  Jesus rebukes them. The Samaritans are right. Jerusalem does not welcome Jesus. The powers in Jerusalem fear him and plan his murder.

Jesus chooses another path. Possible disciples appear along the road wanting to follow him. The will is there, but commitment and courage are lacking. Jesus does not condemn. He simply continues his journey. Jesus does not seek misunderstanding, rejection, persecution. He understands, however, that these are consequences of the life he has chosen to live, a life among people immersed in poverty, violence, marginalization, exclusion. He does not want the suffering for himself and much less for others. He has lived to combat this very suffering, building and living together with the people the kingdom of God, where all are in community and communion, in solidarity, sharing all they have to build together a divinely human and abundant life.

Jesus does not live an illusion. He walks and lives among the people. Together with this people he lives on the margins, on the edge of society. He lives surrounded by the excluded, the despised and marginalized. He knows and believes in this people. He lives what he speaks and speaks what he lives. It is dangerous to seek a dignified and just life for those whom the world considers disposable and despicable. The simple act of recognizing and treating them as important and worthwhile persons constitutes a threat to the powers that be, revealing the reality behind structures of power. This way of life creates persecution and conflict because it places the reality of the kingdom of God face to face with the corrupt and fraudulent power structures of uncontrolled consumption, greed, slavery. It provokes a choice which leads to life or death for humanity and the entire planet.

Jesus does not run after death, but neither does he evade this death. He does not flee in the face of threats, but also does not change a word of his message. He neither softens nor dilutes it. To avoid death would have been easy. He just had to keep quiet, change his way of being, and the groups with whom he associated. It was a simple matter of “acculturation,” conforming, becoming a normal part of the local reality, fitting in. Jesus prefers to risk his life rather than betray his mission, the mission that he has chosen and lived. So Jesus continues the journey, stays on the road to Jerusalem, does not look back. He lives, acts and assumes the consequences of this chosen life. He does not theologize; he does not romanticize. He does not make the headlines or lose himself in political speeches. He just keeps on his journey. Who follows Jesus and this journey faces the same dangers, the same threats, the same persecution, the same temptations.

Following Jesus today, living the Gospel, means to live our daily lives in a climate of insecurity and conflict, to be continually exposed to criminalization and rejection. It means assuming with the impoverished, the marginalized, the immigrants, the enslaved, the excluded a communal search for a better life, a life with less conflict, less violence, less war, less exclusion, less rejection. It is a life where walls are torn down and bridges are built; a life where compassion and solidarity mean participating humbly in the journey of the disposable. It means to join hands today to build together a different life now. It means living, listening, experiencing the drama of these people´s lives and searches, risking the same exclusion, hatred, and criminalization as those whose right to a different life we defend. As Dom Helder Câmara has so clearly put it: “If I give bread to the poor, all call me a saint. If I reveal why the poor have no bread, they call me a communist, a subversive.” May we have the faith to live this truth as Jesus did and does today through us.

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