In today’s first reading from Zechariah 8, the Lord speaks of a time when other peoples would come to the Jews, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.” A reminder for us that our Lord Jesus came from and to Israel. 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.”
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.