Thirteenth Sunday (C)

Sometimes when the force of Jesus teaching penetrates, I’m amazed that there’s a Christian anywhere – even more amazed that there’s anybody at Mass at all!


It’s as if Jesus has set it up to ensure that there’ll be just a few!


Of course, that’s what his teaching always says – the few rather than the many – and we get another example this weekend: Foxes have holes, the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head… meaning that neither him nor his teaching will find a home easily in the human heart and mind!


So next time we hear ourselves saying that stuff is going over our heads – you know the sermon and all that stuff – or it’s irrelevant, or out of touch with life, consider that what we’re really identifying is the simple truth that Jesus and his teaching doesn’t sit easily with us!


I mean… at times if you caught the full force of it, it’d run you out the door! It really is a double-edged sword; cuts you to bits to put you back together so that you’re fit for the kingdom… pruned!


Today Jesus resolutely takes the road to Jerusalem.


He turns toward his death with full awareness. He’s very deliberately turning toward it. Can you share this space… even for a moment?


This facing life and death resolutely is something that’s central to following Christ.


I doubt it’s possible without a deep consciousness of Luke’s description of Jesus’ death as being “taken up to heaven” which indicates that Luke has processed the horror and the violence of Jesus death and transformed the experience. It also requires an equally deep awareness that when we die in Christ this too is our portion.


So, he’s on his way but the Samaritans won’t let him pass through their territory. This is exactly what’s happening in Russia and Ukraine. He’s a Jew, Jews and Samaritan’s are enemies. I can imagine Jesus saying (prayer) to his Father; great, it’s not enough that I must face what’s ahead, but the Samaritan’s are making me go the long way around!


The disciples are not happy and want to call down fire. They know who he is, they know he’s all powerful, but they still don’t understand him. They want him to do things their way… hate your enemies, smash them! Jesus is having none of it. Walk away… leave them alone.


When Jesus leaves you alone… you’re nothing!


We get the same sense – leave them alone – when the would-be disciple wants to go and say goodbye to family and friends before following Jesus.


Even more so when the other character in the passage wants to go bury his father before following Jesus. Jesus is scathing; leave the dead to bury their dead!


What’s he saying?


He’s saying what he always says: I’m all that matters. Without me you’re just dead men (women) walking!