By LEVI VILORIA ALBANIA
United Methodist Church
Ps 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11
1 Kgs 19:16b, 19-21
Gal 5:1, 13-18
Luke 9: 51-62
Today’s Gospel narrates the story leading up to Jesus Christ’s crucifixion, death, and resurrection. Jesus and His disciples were set out to Jerusalem passing through villages. The narrative invites us to reflect on (1) the interaction with the Samaritans and (2) the cost of following Jesus.
As they were passing through the Samaritan village, the people did not welcome Jesus and his disciples. I find it quite surprising because in the parable and other references, Samaritans were often associated with good qualities such as generosity, compassion, and gratitude. However, in today’s Gospel it is disappointing to hear that the Samaritans were not willing to accommodate Jesus and His disciples.
A part of me was quick to judge that like many people in society, these Samaritans rejected and discriminated those that were not their kind. Jesus is the Way, Truth, and Life, and people who have been accustomed to the ways of the world may easily reject the truth. In our context, many have been tolerating or believing fake news, and, corruption, dishonesty, injustice, and oppression have seemingly been the order of the day. Those who have been advocates of truth are oftentimes shamed, persecuted, and discriminated. For this, I ask myself, how many times have I been a “Samaritan” to my fellow?
On another hand, I believe Jesus understood the Samaritans’ reaction when He and His disciples reached the village. At the onset, Jesus was clear about His intention to proceed to Jerusalem. Perhaps, the Samaritans knew that holding him longer would waste His precious time to fulfill His purpose. The disciple’s reference of calling fire down from heaven like Elijah’s which was rejected by Jesus was a proof that Jesus was not there to prove anything to anyone. Rather, Jesus was focused on the task at hand. So, they set forth to other villages.
As they proceeded to other villages, several men said that they will follow Him. His reply to the first was “foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.” which brings us the first character of discipleship. The world does not promise to reward us financially if we follow Jesus. Next, a person said that he will follow Jesus after burying his father. Jesus replied “let the dead bury their own dead…”. In many sermons I have heard growing up, it has been consistently preached that we should spend our time, talents, and treasure on the living people, proclaiming the kingdom of God, rather than focusing time and effort on dead people. To the man who said he will follow Jesus after saying goodbye to his family, Jesus answered “no one puts a hand to the plow and looks back”. Anyone who is familiar with farming knows that if you look back, you may either swerve to the left or right which make the supposed straight line ahead crooked. In following God, we need to be focused on the ultimate goal that is His kingdom.
Today’s gospel provides us guidance on how to be disciples today. To be able to share the Good News, we must be ready to speak the truth. We should come prepared for some people to reject us because God’s ways are different. Do not expect royalties, retainers, commissions, and other rewards for it is not promised.
The only way to follow God is to live differently – to worship Him and follow His words, to serve God through His people, and be faithful stewards of God’s creation.
Before we say our prayers today, may I invite you to for a short reflection?
How are we living our lives differently as followers of Christ?
Will the people of this generation see in us any evidence or manifestation of being Christians?
In what ways do we support others who are speaking that truth and advocating for a just and humane society?
Let us pray,
O Jesus, the Lord Almighty, we remember that we are in Your holy presence.
We come before You to praise you for the gift of life.
May how we live each day be our way of glorifying You.
Rebuke us like You did to Your followers when insist on our ways and not listen to Yours. Forgive us when we are quick to judge others without looking into our own sins and iniquities.
Guide us in understanding our purpose.
We lift up to you our fellow. Protect those who stand for truth as their way of glorifying You. Jehovah Jireh, we trust that You will provide. Make us instruments of your mercy and compassion.
Holy Spirit, remind us that we do all these good things for the greater glory of God who made Heaven and earth.
All these we ask in Your Holy Name, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Balik-Tanaw is a group blog of Promotion of Church People’s Response. The Lectionary Gospel reflection is an invitation for meditation, contemplation, and action. As we nurture our faith by committing ourselves to journey with the people, we also wish to nourish the perspective coming from the point of view of hope and struggle of the people. It is our constant longing that even as crisis intensifies, the faithful will continue to strengthen their commitment to love God and our neighbor by being one with the people in their dreams and aspirations. The Title of the Lectionary Reflection would be Balik –Tanaw , isang PAGNINILAY . It is about looking back (balik) or revisiting the narratives and stories from the Biblical text and seeing, reading, and reflecting on these with the current context (tanaw).