Memorial of Saint Jerome, priest and doctor
Psalm 87:1-3, 4-5, 6-7
“Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume
-- Luke 9-54
I hope that Jesus’ rebuke of James and John was wise and not too harsh.
After all, in suggesting that the inhospitable Samaritan villagers be fried
in fire from heaven, they’re aping the Prophet Elijah.
In the early passages of the Second Book of Kings, Elijah kills more than
100 of his pursuers, handily calling down fire from heaven to get the job
done. James and John must have figured that what is good for Elijah is good
enough for Jesus.
Jesus has other ideas.
He seems bent on nothing less than a radical transformation of human nature.
Of course it IS human nature to behave like John and James. They’ve
been rejected along with Jesus. Rejection hurts. They want to
hurt back. (If you have never once wished ill on a person who hurt
you, well, then, you’re a far better person than I am and my hat is off to
you. You can stop reading this right now and go on about your day).
For my part, I need Jesus to quench the angry fires that flare up in my heart.
His rebuke of James and John in this passage seems a deliberate effort
to differentiate himself from Elijah (remember, some people identified him
with Elijah). Instead of calling down heaven’s fury on those who reject
Him, Jesus quietly pursues His aim – salvation, peace and NOT destruction.
He chooses peace, then moves on to another village.
My prayer today is that the Lord will help me remember that the way to
peace is to choose peace for myself and stop worrying about what others are
doing. I’d also like to remember that no matter how many times I meet
rejection, there always is another village ahead.