Gospel: Lk 9:51-56
As the time drew near when Jesus would be taken up to heaven, he made up his mind to go to Jerusalem. He sent ahead of him some messengers, who entered a Samaritan village to prepare a lodging for him. But the people would not receive him, because he was on his way to Jerusalem. Seeing this, James and John, his disciples, said, ”Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to reduce them to ashes?” Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they went on to another village.
The First reading taken from the prophet Zechariah speaks so well of God‘s constant desire to gather all peoples into one family under His Fatherhood. A Father of a family or a parish priest will understand by heart this divine desire to have ”one flock under one shepherd” (Jn 10:16). This too is the priestly prayer of Jesus: ”Father may they be one as You and I are one” (Jn 17:20). This theme is also shown in today‘s Gospel reading. Jesus forbade his disciples James and John to retaliate against the Samaritans who did not welcome Him. The unwelcoming actions of the Samaritans are due to the long quarrel between the Jews and Samaritans.
Jesus is not unaware of the conflict. But, He consented to pass that way to Jerusalem. For security and to avoid confrontations, they could have passed through another way. Jesus must have a reason for passing through Samaria. He wanted to reconcile the conflict and to offer friendship and reunite them, as He is faithful to His mission as the ”light to all nations.”
During the civil war, President Abraham Lincoln was criticized for being soft and considerate to his enemies. Many times he was reminded that it was his duty to destroy them. To these, his answer was ”The best way to destroy an enemy is to be friend him. ”Lincoln must have learned it from Jesus. For us Christians, like Jesus, no one is an enemy but only a lost and strayed friend.