• 13th Sunday C

    Posted on June 30, 2019 by in Reflections on Sunday Gospels

    Journeying with Jesus

        We begin this Sunday with that Section of Luke’s Gospel that starts

    the Journey from Galilee in the North to Jerusalem in the South.  Luke

    follows the basic pattern in writing his Gospel that Mark followed.

    Both begin with the ministry of Jesus in Galilee and then move on to the

    Journey.  The Journey in Mark is only two chapters.  Luke expands this

    journey to 10 chapters.  Luke is writing in a time when the church is

    expanding.  In his Journey narrative he adds additional teaching of

    Jesus.  Since his church is spreading out, we often times hear Jesus

    speaking to problems that the young Church is facing.  Luke applies the

    teaching of Jesus to the problems of the communities to whom he is


    Homily:   Luke is a very organized and yet very creative writer.  We see

    these characteristics in the recurrence of certain themes throughout the

    Gospel.  Jerusalem holds a prominent place in this Gospel.  The journey

    theme is found in a variety of ways.

        Before Jesus is born he makes a journey in Mary’s womb to visit his

    relative John the Baptist in Elizabeth’s womb.  Jesus is born on a

    journey for a journey. At his birth shepherds journey to Jerusalem to

    see.   After his birth his parents journey to Jerusalem to present him

    in the temple.  At the age of twelve his parents journey from their

    home in Nazareth to Jerusalem and Jesus is lost in the temple.  When he

    begins his public life he is journeying to the Jordan and then to the

    wilderness and then he journeys about Galilee.  In today’s Gospel he begins

    a journey to Jerusalem.  But in Luke’s telling of the story of Jesus,

    Jesus will suffer and die and rise from the dead in Jerusalem.

    The gospel will end with Jesus Ascending to heaven, to the new

    Jerusalem. But then we will begin book two of Luke’s story.  From his

    place in heaven Jesus will send the Holy Spirit and the young church

    will begin a Journey out from Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria and then to

    the ends of the Earth.   The main instrument of this spread will be Paul

    and his missionary journeys.   So we will journey with Jesus this

    summer.  Jesus made a real journey to Jerusalem.  But we speak of the

    following of Jesus as being a following of the WAY.   The followers are

    called Christians.   This builds on the Old Testament idea of being

    followers of the Way of God.   Our life is a journey.   We come from

    God, spend a time here and then journey to God.

    This passage is a turning point in Luke’s Gospel. This Sunday’s passage from Luke is about commitment.  First and foremost is Jesus commitment. Jesus had to this point preached and taught and worked miracles in Galilee.  He was well received by the majority of people.  Now he must journey to Jerusalem, the seat of power where people would be more hostile toward him.

        As Jesus sets out on this journey he sends messengers ahead of him.

    But they are not received because they are journeying through Samaria to

    Jerusalem.  In the view of the Samaritans Jesus is going to the wrong

    place (Jerusalem) and they need not show him hospitality.   Between the

    Samaritans and Jews there was intense hatred.   This was the sin of

    racism.  It is nothing personal against Jesus, he is a Jew.  The sin of

    racism is alive and well in our world.  The sons of thunder’s response

    is to call down fire.  Our equivalent of sending them to hell. “Jesus

    tell them to go to hell.” This is the sin of being a fanatic. But Jesus rebukes them.  When he sent the 12 he told them to go, and where received stay, where rejected, move on. He not only says this but here he does what he says.   The importance of

    saying and doing the same thing.  Not to have the contradiction.  Later

    on in this Gospel Jesus will highlight the Samaritans in a very curious

    way.  He will make a Samaritan an example not of badness but of

    goodness.  He will tell the parable of the Good Samaritan.   And he will

    also say that of the ten lepers cured only one will give him thanks and

    that man is a SAMARITAN.

        A first person comes to him and says he wants to follow.  Jesus

    tells him that the foxes have the lairs and the birds of the air their

    nests but the son of man has nowhere to lay his head.  He is telling

    them that following him means a certain sense of insecurity.

         A second person comes and wants to bury his father.  Jesus’ words:

    Let the dead bury the dead.   What does that mean?   The obligation to

    bury people was strong to the Jews.   As we look at Jesus life we see

    him present when Lazarus is buried, when the widow is going to bury

    her only son he raises him up.  This passage should probably be understood to mean that this man intends to defer the matter of following Jesus to a distant future when his father dies as an old man.  The man is saying to Jesus, “surely you don’t expect me to violate the expectations of my community?”  Yet this is precisely what Jesus requires.

        Then a third person will come who requests permission to say good

    bye.  This more properly should be understood as a request to take leave of his parents or ask for their permission to leave.

    In the first reading Elisha had made the same request of Elijah.

    Elijah had granted the request.  But then Elisha had made a complete

    break.  He slaughters the twelve oxen (he must have been wealthy).  He

    makes a fire with the plow and then has a meal, a despedida.  He then

    commits himself to the following of Elijah completely.   Jesus is more

    demanding than Elijah.   Whoever sets his hand to the plow and turns

    back is not worthy of the Kingdom.  Jesus is also saying that the following of him will be difficult work.

        In each of these three brief stories we do not know what the response of the person is.  The first and third person come volunteering to follow Jesus.  The second person was summoned by Jesus.

    We would seem to be called to examine our sense of commitment to following Jesus.  He was steadfast in beginning and continuing his journey to Jerusalem.  We have had our moments of commitment to Jesus at some time in our life, or we can perhaps make it now.  We should ask for the grace to be steadfast in our commitment.

        We get a sense of how radical it is to follow Jesus.

    We all have the remarkable ability to say we want to follow Jesus and

    then do what we want.  Jesus is telling us that this should not be so.

        Interesting to me that Michael Sean Winters writing for NCR is calling the U.S.bishops to civil disobedience.  Wouldn’t that be something.  Their published response to the present crisis is woeful.

       ( To foil Sunday excuses a wit proposed that we supply the following: beds, cotton, hearing aids, fans, blankets, food, invite relatives, grass and plants, poinsettias and lilies, etc.  We Must look at our excuses. )

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