Jun 28, 2019

Up Stream Battle

Luke 9:51-62

The Gospel for this Sunday sees Christ “resolute”, “determined” to reach the city of Jerusalem. Nothing can distract or sidetrack him. This is a man on a mission. However, notice his temperament. He is not like a bull let loose, or a like a galloping horse heading towards the finish line.  Instead he knows, there will be delays and obstacles; there will be disappointments and letdowns.  He knows what ultimately awaits him in a city where he will be opposed, betrayed and rejected by his own people. As Christians, we are to follow in his footsteps and respond to the evil around us in the same manner as Christ did.  

In the gospel, his excitable disciples encounter their first test of what to do and what not to do when their own message is rejected. Calling down fire from heaven every time they met opposition is no way to convince a reluctant people of the goodness of God. Christ’s disciple is called to be patient, and even exhibit “longsuffering and gentleness, not revengeful. They must not be given to wrath or savagely attack those who offend them” (Cyril of Alexandria, Homily 56).   In short, Christ rebukes any of his disciples who exhibit religious fundamentalism or impatience - the toxic combination of fear and anger. 

During first three hundred years of Christianity, when the imperial government policy was to actively thwart the efforts of Christians, accusing them of trying to influence the masses with their “doctrine” and “ideologies”, the Gospel was proclaimed most effectively and convincingly, not by the apostles calling down fire from heaven, but by the efforts and the example of ordinary, if not reluctant disciples like Simon of Cyrene who found himself compelled to help Christ carry his Cross, or like Veronica, as the story is told, who wiped blood from the face of Jesus as he made his way to Calvary. Or the soldier who stood by the cross of Christ and beheld the manner which Christ offered his life for the salvation of the world. 

The cross of Christ must be first embraced fully if a disciple is to experience completely the victory of the resurrection!

It is Christ himself who invites you and me, not only to become his disciples but also to journey down the road that same road. He is always the one who takes the initiative. We follow his lead.  It is the Lord who marks out the road we must travel by traveling it himself, “resolutely” and “determined”. 

And along that long road from Bethlehem to Jerusalem, “Jesus shares the life of the poor, from the cradle to the cross; he experiences hunger, thirst and privation. Jesus identifies himself with the poor of every kind and makes active love toward them the condition for entering his kingdom.” (CCC 544) 

What brought many a pagan to the faith, was not the theological arguments but, instead, something completely illogical – the Cross.  “See how these Christians love one another”. “See how they face persecution and death, not with anger or fear – but with an inner joy and peace – a peace that the world can not give.”

As we pass by on our way to the heavenly Jerusalem, let us pray that, faithful to our discipleship, we will accept a piece of Christ's cross, and by doing so, to attract many to journey alongside us, embracing the truth that sets us free, the One who alone can provide fulfillment for every human thirst and hunger. (cf. CCC 1741) This Holy Eucharist provides us with Christ as “food for the journey”.

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