"'Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?' Jesus turned and rebuked them."
In today’s Gospel, the disciples’ desire to seek retribution reminds me of how I sometimes feel like acting when rejected or treated unfairly. It seems to be human nature to yearn for fairness. When we feel rejected, insulted, or mistreated by others, the typical response is often one of anger and retribution. When I was younger, I remember complaining to my parents that it wasn’t fair that my sister didn’t get in trouble for something that we both did. As we got older, we often argued about sharing the car – why was it fair that I used the car three nights in a row? (as my sister would often point out - it wasn’t). The issue of fairness can seep into almost every crevice of life, if we let it. As shown in today’s Gospel, it’s common to think that when someone does us wrong, we have the right to be mad, and they deserve to suffer the consequences.
I can picture Jesus and the disciples now: the disciples are incredibly irritated, and as they are journeying to another village, they can’t seem to shake their anger. They gossip among themselves, “How rude the Samaritans are! We’ll show them!” However, when the disciples ask Jesus if they should punish the Samaritan village, Jesus rebukes them. Jesus is less upset by the Samaritan’s lack of a welcome than by the disciples’ urge to punish the Samaritan village. Jesus seems to be saying: 'After journeying with me, you still do not get it?'
Jesus preached that we should love our enemies. Having grown up in the Catholic faith, I have heard numerous accounts of Jesus sharing this lesson with his followers both through speech and action. The idea of love for enemies has been ingrained in my mind. However, knowing that I should love my enemies is far different than actually acting in love. The concept or idea of loving our enemies seems so simple: of course, love is always the answer! However, the action of loving an enemy is a challenge which we must always remind ourselves of. We must constantly push away the excuses we make for our rejection of others:“Well, I don’t have to love him – he has done so many bad things!” “Oh, she’s an exception!” “I’ll love all of my enemies except him or her.”
Jesus’ teachings are not easy. The disciples have accompanied Jesus and heard his teachings numerous times, yet even in Jesus’ presence, they want to fight back against those who don’t treat them fairly. Jesus calls us to more than what is our human nature. He urges us to fight not against those who do us wrong, but against what separates us from each other: perceived differences, hatred, fear.
As anyone who knows me well could tell you, I love quotes. I spend hours reading them and writing them in my journal to share with others when the time is right. So today, I will leave you with a quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. He said,
“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”
Today, let us go and really love our enemies. Let us be the light!