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Thirteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time C: June 26, 2022

Luke 9: 51-62


Fr. John Tran

In today’s gospel, Jesus is on a journey to Jerusalem, and it seems that his disciples have to hurry to catch up with him. Luke highlights this journey because it is Jesus’ last trip there. It will end in his passion, death and resurrection. Jesus is first moving through Samaritan territory, and he asks the disciple to go ahead to let the people know he is coming; but, the disciples are told that Jesus is not welcomed there. The disciples are furious and want Jesus to destroy that place. But, Jesus teaches them a first insight into discipleship: the disciple must be patient and wait for God’s spirit to work; the disciple must be tolerant of where people are in their progress toward God. In actual fact after the resurrection, the Samaritans are the first non-Jews to follow the way of Jesus.


As the group moves along, a man comes up and declares that he wants to follow Jesus, “wherever you go.” Jesus answers that nature provides a place for animals and birds, but the Son of Man “has nowhere to rest his head.”


With these words Jesus points our another cost of being a disciple. He wants enthusiastic would-be followers to know that discipleship is not an easy road. It is a relationship, and it comes at a cost. Comfort is the first thing one loses in a life on the road, spreading the Good News.


These words of Jesus are touching and meaningful for us today. They put us face to face with a suffering so universal, shared by countless numbers of human beings: homelessness. There are so many reasons: war and civil war, job loss, natural disasters, mental illness, all of which can cause crushing depression and defeat. This is a modern example of the disciple having to be understanding and tolerant, and at the same time, willing to bear the cost of discipleship in giving prayers, material help, and our precious time to those who are homeless. Do we see the need of a family member, a friend, a parishioner, a stranger? The homeless are not always living in destitution on the street or under a bridge; they are often just like us sitting right beside us.


Jesus wants them to be comforted, to know that he has walked this road, too, and that he has shared all our sufferings just as he redeemed us from the burdens of all our sins.


As Jesus disciple, am I willing to put my comfort on the line? Am I willing to be tolerant of those whose way of living is difficult for me to understand? Am I willing to learn tolerance and how to go out of my way to reach those who need Jesus? Am I willing to be Jesus presence for them? And am I willing to learn what they have to teach?


Now, doesn’t this fit into what St. Paul is saying in today's second reading from his letter to the Galatians: “For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit to the yoke of slavery.” Paul has us us this freedom for love and not for the opportunities of this world. He says, “rather, serve one another through love...you shall love your neighbor as yourself. But if you go on biting and devouring one another, beware that you are not consumed by one another.” It is only by living in Jesus' Spirit that we will be able to do this; otherwise, our lower human tendencies will take over.


God has been unrelenting in his search for humankind from the beginning of our existence. Some people have been very aware of this and have committed God’s search for us to print. After his rescue and conversion, Francis Thompson wrote the poem “The Hound of Heaven,” which begins:


I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;

I fled Him, down the arches of the years;

I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways

Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears.


The Hound of Heaven continues to invite each one of us to follow him. Whenever we say “yes,” the Hound will invite us anew to change our lives. Don’t be surprised when you hear God’s voice, for He makes invitations to ordinary people, like you and me, while we are doing ordinary things in our lives. Like the disciples in today's gospel, it is hard for us to keep pace with Jesus. We bring his message to those who need to hear it whether by word or action, no matter the cost.


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