Franciscan Friar Fr. Paul Gallagher reflects on the Gospel for the Thirteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, June 26, 2022. The content is edited by Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Anne Marie Lom and Joe Thiel. The excerpts from the Sunday readings are prepared by Joe Thiel. To read or download the complete pdf with excerpts for your prayer, please click here: Franciscan Gospel Reflections June 26 2022 Excerpts are from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner. Photo: By Ralf Roletschek – https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=35770; By Titian – Prado Image, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20214951; No machine-readable author provided. Mikel Lejarza~commonswiki assumed (based on copyright claims)., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
On the way they entered a Samaritan village to prepare for his reception there, but they would not welcome him because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” Jesus rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village.
As they were proceeding on their journey someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus answered him, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nets, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.”
And to another he said, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.” But he answered him, “let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
And another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home.” To him Jesus said, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”
On the last few Sundays the Church has celebrated the feasts of Pentecost, Holy Trinity, and the Body and Blood of Christ. This Sunday the Church returns to the readings for the Sundays of Ordinary time. The gospel readings will have the general pattern of following one upon the other, one Sunday to the next, through Luke’s gospel. The background material will note how one gospel text follows on the previous, also noting the verses that are skipped between the two Sunday gospels. Hopefully this will help the reader have a sense of the flow of the text as a gospel, and not just isolated texts.
Preceding this Sunday’s gospel, Jesus has been praying alone, and at some point he turned to the disciples and asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” (Luke 9:18) Peter’s reply was that he believed Jesus to be the “Christ of God.” Jesus then began to reveal to them what that really means, telling them he would be rejected by the leaders, be killed, and then rise on the third day. As the disciples were privileged with this information, they were also told not to tell others.
Luke also describes Jesus’ instruction to the disciples about the nature of their relationship as disciples. Luke then records his description of the Transfiguration. After this, as they come down the mountain, Jesus encounters a man whose son is possessed by a demon, and Jesus heals the boy. While the disciples are still amazed by what had happened, Jesus predicts a second time that he will be handed over, and he talks again about the nature of being his disciple.
In these verses, Luke is describing how Jesus is unfolding his relationship with the disciples, and the true nature of his mission. Even as they are given a privileged understanding of who Jesus is, he is also making it clear what is expected of them. Jesus will continue to unfold his relationship with the disciples for the next ten chapters of Luke’s gospel, and then he enters Jerusalem in Chapter 19. The first verse of this week’s gospel states clearly that Jerusalem is Jesus’ destination. This is as much a spiritual journey as geographical. The disciples in Jesus’ inner circle are being invited to join him.
Key to appreciating the gospel text for this Sunday is understanding the animosity between the Jews and the Samaritans, which has a 700-year history. About 721 BC the Assyrians defeated the northern kingdom, Israel. Many people were deported, and aliens resettled the Jewish land. Many of the Jews who remained intermarried with these aliens. When the Jews returned from captivity 200 years later, they were angry that those who were able to remain were not faithful to their Jewish traditions, and many had also intermarried with their new alien neighbors. The animosity was so great that they were not permitted to help in the rebuilding of the temple. In time the Samaritans built their own temple to Yahweh on Mount Gerizim. Hostility and disagreement about proper worship of Yahweh interlaces the relationship between Judeans and Samaritans. During Passover about the year 6 A.D., some Samaritans desecrated the temple in Jerusalem by throwing bones throughout the temple. About 45 years later the Samaritans of the village of Gema murdered a pilgrim on the way to Jerusalem for Passover. Some Judeans responded by burning their village to the ground and killings its inhabitants.
Matthew’s gospel presents a more distant relationship between Jesus and Samaritans. In Matthew, Jesus tells his disciples not to even enter the Samaritan towns (10:5). Luke’s gospel expresses a different attitude, and there are several examples. In the text for today, Jesus rebukes the two disciples who would destroy this Samaritan town. The 10th chapter of Luke contains the parable of the “Good Samaritan.” The Samaritan leper who returns to thank Jesus for being cured is not instructed to make the customary offering in the Temple of Jerusalem (Luke 17:11-19). It would seem as if Luke has intentionally moved toward a more reconciling presentation of Jesus’ attitude toward the Samaritans.
In the last six verses of today’s gospel, it may seem like Jesus is discouraging those who would become his disciples. In verses 57 and 58, his comments seem to discourage one who may want to join him. In the remaining verses, Jesus invites two men to become followers, but he seems to have no patience for their need to fulfill social obligations to family. The admonitions are given to nameless would-be followers. Therefore, they are understood to be part of Jesus’ instruction on the kind of commitment that is expected of his disciples. Their inclusion in the gospel is also a subtle admonition that the early Christians need to reflect on their fully living their initial full commitment to living discipleship.
- The comments and attitudes of other Christians that I have found personally discouraging at times have been…
- When I heard James and John in today’s gospel ask Jesus if he wants them to call down fire from heaven, I thought…
- Have you ever had thoughts like James and John? What were the circumstances? How do you think God was responding to you then? And now?
- Has there ever been a point in your life when you were saying to Jesus that you would follow him wherever he goes?
- Are you still saying that today?
- Can you talk with God about the kind of welcome you think you have received from God, from the church, and from the world as one of Jesus’ followers?