Hunting the hunter

– Tuesday of the 27th Week in Ordinary Time –

When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. (Luke 9:51)

Today’s gospel reading describes an occasion in which a Samaritan village refuses to receive Jesus. Incensed, James and John – the same James and John who wanted to sit at Jesus’ right and left in his kingdom (see Matthew 20:20-23) – offer to lay waste to the village in a manner reminiscent of God’s punishment of Sodom and Gomorrah: “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” (see Genesis 19:24). Jesus gives them an earful.

Putting the pretensions of these two ‘high and mighty’ brothers to one side, one of the more striking details of today’s reading is the steeliness of Jesus’ resolve. We are told that Jesus has “set his face to go to Jerusalem.” Why Jerusalem? Because it is the location for his rendezvous with death (see Luke 13:33; Matthew 16:21; John 14:30-31, cont. 18:1-4). Jesus has something bigger to slay than Samaritans.

Through this realisation, we find that the paradigm has been turned upside-down and inside-out: Man is now stalking death; the gazelle now hunts the lion. Because of this, Jesus has no fear of it or its agents (see Luke 13:31-33) and, as we learn in due course, he decisively conquers it.

Through our baptism into Jesus’ death and resurrection, we share in his victory. However, although the ultimate victory has been won, a personal obligation to enter into and thus overcome death for ourselves remains: “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For … those who lose their life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25).

What of our own fears might we start hunting down? What part of our darkness needs exposing to the light? Christ, give us the courage to challenge our fears, so that we might find newness of life.

by Mark Makowiecki

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