If Job were around today, he certainly would have been diagnosed with serious depression. In today’s first reading, he rues the very day that he was born. He knows that anything would be better than all the stuff he was suffering through. Yet through it all, he never curses God for his plight. In the Gospel today from Luke 9, we see Jesus coming to a Samaritan village, but they will not welcome him.
James and John ask Jesus, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” Jesus rebukes them. Haven’t you ever felt that way? Wanting to call down fire from heaven on someone? To be honest, I have. At times I know that I am in the right, like on life issues. Often when I hear people who seem hell bent on destroying life, on furthering the culture of death, I would LOVE to call down fire from heaven on them. How dare they think that taking innocent lives is OK, even moral! In my (little) mind, they deserve to be consumed by the wrath of God.
And then Jesus rebukes me. Although they are certainly mistaken, they are still God’s children, worthy of respect and dignity. I often forget that no one is beyond redemption; all may come to repentance and come to God. I have a feeling that James and John may have forgotten this, too. Thus the rebuke from Jesus. Perhaps the right thing to say would have been, “Lord, let us pray that they will come to know you.” Look at it this way – if you’re going to call fire down from heaven to consume sinners, you’d better be wearing an asbestos suit.
Father, forgive us for those times when we, too, wish to call fire down from heaven to consume our enemies. Give us a spirit of repentance, understanding and love. Amen.