(Illustration by Phil Younk)
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Based on the Gospel of Luke 9:51-62
Not the usual welcome! Not the usual journey!

In this Sunday’s Gospel, the focus is on the cost of discipleship. Jesus and his disciples are on their way to Jerusalem. They have to pass through the country of Samaria where they plan to stop in one of the villages to rest.

The Samaritans and Jews have been enemies since Old Testament times when the great king Solomon died and his empire was divided into two parts – Samaria and Judea. When the Samaritans heard that Jesus and his disciples were planning to stay in one of their villages on their way to Jerusalem, they angrily drove them away. They neither welcomed Jesus nor wanted to listen to his teaching.

The disciples became angry when they saw how Jesus was treated. Jesus scolded them and led them to another village. Jesus did not want to waste time on people who would not listen to his message of love and peace.

Jesus and his disciples were going to Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish Passover, after which Jesus will eventually be arrested, put to death, and rise gloriously on Easter Sunday – fulfilling his Father’s plan.

Over the next few months St. Luke’s Gospel will tell us more about Jesus’ journey. It will be a long, difficult journey for both Jesus and his disciples, but an important one.

Jesus knew he had to prepare the disciples for his suffering, death, and Resurrection. Not yet completely understanding who Jesus was, they thought of him as a powerful political person who would set up a religious kingdom in which they, too, hopefully, would have some power.

Jesus explained that the power of love would be the rule in his kingdom – not forceful, conquering power. Jesus had scolded his disciples for wanting to take revenge upon the Samaritans for their treatment of him. He did this not to embarrass them but to have them totally commit themselves to follow him.

In proclaiming God’s kingdom, Jesus calls each of us to a total commitment to follow him – to live a Christian life. No matter how hard it may be for us sometimes, Jesus has promised to be with us always to help on our life’s journey as his followers.