27 Sept, Tuesday of Week 26
Zech 8:20ff. Peoples of every nationality shall take hold of the Jew by the edge of his garment and say, “Let us go with you, for God is with you.”
Lk 9:51ff. The long journey narrative begins as Jesus proceeds towards Jerusalem. Rejected by the Samaritans, he still does not want them cursed.
Making The Journey
Today we are invited to share in a journey to Jerusalem and the holy temple, there to worship God with many others. The spirit with which we travel forms the spirit with which we join in prayer at our gathering in church. This spirit, as we learn from the readings, is not a generic pious attitude which fits every moment and circumstance, but somehow it is partially formed by the environment of our individual lives.
In Zechariah we journey with the contagious excitement of a large group going up to the temple where they will find the living God. In the Gospel, the long “journey narrative” is introduced by Luke; Jesus resolves to go toward Jerusalem and sends messengers on ahead of him. This journey becomes the context for understanding the preaching and ministry of Jesus. Everything he says or does is somehow a step towards Jerusalem, where he will be “taken from this world.”
We of the twenty-first century are being asked to look on all of our changes, transitions and “journeys” as a step towards union with Jesus and with all our brothers and sisters in worship. Whether in sorrow or joy we are joined with many brothers and sisters who assemble in worship for the Eucharist around Christ’s body “given for you” and his blood “shed for you” (Luke 22:19-20).
Today we begin Luke’s long journey narrative. All the way to the end of ch. 19, Luke assembles sayings of Jesus which Matthew and Mark scatter elsewhere in their stories. Luke thereby makes a theological (not a geographical) statement that everything points mystically towards Jerusalem, that is towards our union with Jesus in his sufferings, death and glorious resurrection which focus on Jerusalem.
Luke opens this journey narrative with the incident at Samaria. These people in central Palestine had been rejected by the Jerusalem Jews and by this time they were fiercely hostile. Jesus will not permit his disciples to think of the destruction of the Samaritans. He gives them time, just as Job needed time to curse and to be angry. We learn in the Acts of the Apostles that many Samaritans were converted to Christianity, very quickly after Pentecost. After Stephen was martyred and while Saul was persecuting the church, we read: The members of the church had been dispersed. Philip, for example, went down to the town of Samaria and there proclaimed the Messiah and cured many people. The rejoicing in that town rose to fever pitch (Acts 8:4-8). Luke’s account is preparing for this moment of glory. The Bible, therefore, respects all different stages in life and enables us to see each of them as a following in the footsteps of Jesus.
First Reading: Zc 8:20-23
Thus says the Lord of hosts: Peoples shall yet coe, the inhabitants of many cities; the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, “Come, let us go to entreat the favour of the Lord, and to seek the Lord of hosts; I myself am going.” Many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem, and to entreat the favour of the Lord.
Thus says the Lord of hosts: In those days ten men from nations of every language shall take hold of a Jew, grasping his garment and saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”
Gospel: Luke 9:51-56
When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village.