Thus says the LORD of hosts:
There shall yet come peoples,
the inhabitants of many cities;
and the inhabitants of one city shall approach those of another,
and say, “Come! let us go to implore the favor of the LORD;
and, “I too will go to seek the LORD.”
Many peoples and strong nations shall come
to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem
and to implore the favor of the LORD.
Thus says the LORD of hosts:
In those days ten men of every nationality,
speaking different tongues, shall take hold,
yes, take hold of every Jew by the edge of his garment and say,
“Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”
When the days for Jesus to be taken up were fulfilled,
he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem,
and he sent messengers ahead of him.
On the way they entered a Samaritan village
to prepare for his reception there,
but they would not welcome him
because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem.
When the disciples James and John saw this they asked,
“Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven
to consume them?”
Jesus turned and rebuked them,
and they journeyed to another village.
Written by: Rev. Anthony Dinh M. Tien, O.P.
I. THEME: Human reactions to opposite wills and sufferings
When facing opposite wills and sufferings in life, human beings used to have three tendencies:
(1) To blame on God: Those who believed in the Predestination think all were set up by God or heaven. If He wants one to suffer, that one must suffer; if He wants one to be happy, that one will be happy. Human beings cannot do anything to change it.
(2) To blame on others: Others can be parents: “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge” (Jer 31:29); or it can be all kinds of people as J.P. Sastre, an existentialist says: “People are hell.” Or it can be the reaction of two Jesus’ disciples in today Gospel: They want to call down fire from heaven to consume Samarian cities.
(3) To blame on self: They were born under unlucky stars.
Today readings give us a better solution: to find out the main reason why one has to suffer. In the first reading, the prophet Zechariah foretold there will be the day that all nations shall come to Jerusalem to search for God and to pray to Him, because they have heard that God is with the Jews. In the Gospel, when his two disciples, James and John, wanted to call down fire from heaven to consume Samarian cities, Jesus rebuked them because that is not the way of God’s education.
1/ Reading I: A great crowd and powerful nations shall search the Lord of hosts at Jerusalem.
1.1/ Jerusalem will be the worship place of all nations.
(1) Translation: The expression, “lehalôt et-penê Yahweh” means “to pray before the Lord;” not “to implore the favor of the Lord.” Therefore, one must translate:
+ V. 21: “The inhabitants of one city shall approach those of another, and say, “Come! Let us go to pray before the LORD; and, “I too will go to seek the LORD.””
+ V. 22: “Many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem and to pray before the LORD.”
(2) Meaning: This is Zechariah’s prophecy about the future Jerusalem: “Thus says the LORD of hosts: There shall yet come peoples, the inhabitants of many cities.” They shall come to Jerusalem to search for the Lord and to pray before Him. The worship of the Lord is no longer limited to the Jews, but also spread to all nations. This prophecy is not only announced by Zechariah, but also by many prophets such as Isaiah, Jeremiah and Daniel. Jerusalem is not limited to the physical Jerusalem, but opened up to the spiritual Jerusalem in heaven (Rev 3:12; 21:2; 10).
In the conversation between Jesus and the Samarian woman, Jesus also predicted: “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (Jn 4:20-24).
1.2/ The reason of searching: People from every nations come to Jerusalem to search the Lord because they were heard about the Lord of the Jews. The prophet Zechariah announced the Lord’s oracle: “In those days ten men of every nationality, speaking different tongues, shall take hold, yes, take hold of every Jew by the edge of his garment and say, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”” Ten men speak ten different languages, but they have the same purpose which is to search for the Lord. This oracle is fulfilled when Christ was nailed to the cross, died, buried, and resurrected after three days. He died to take away people’s sins and to give back to men the eternal life (Zech 11:12-14).
2/ Gospel: James and John wanted to destroy Samarians who refused to welcome Jesus.
2.1/ The relationship between the Jews and the Samaritans: The shortest distance from Galilee to Jerusalem is to go through Samaria; but most of the Jews avoided that way because there existed a feud between them. The Jews use two other ways to Jerusalem, either by the way of the Mediteranean Sea or by the way of the Jordan to Jericho and then going up to Jerusalem. The Samaritans used many ways to discourage the Jews to cross over their territory as we saw in today Gospel: “they would not welcome him because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem.”
2.2/ The reaction of James and John: They felt indignant when they saw the Samaritans’ reaction, and they asked Jesus: “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” This is the popular reaction of the Jews for the Gentiles. They probably thought that Jesus was humble himself to enter their villages to bring the Good News to them, if they refuse to hear, they are not deserved to live.
2.3/ Jesus’ reaction: He rebuked them. To destroy those who held an opposite view with you is not the best way to solve a problem; but to make them to become your friends will solve all problems. When A. Lincoln, the American president, was criticized that he has been so soft in his manner with enemies; and he forgot his duty is to destroy them, he answered back, “Am I not destroyed them when I made them to become my friends?”
In chapter 4 of the Fourth Gospel, Jesus conversed the Samaritan woman and made her to be the first missionary to her people even before all the apostles. The Acts also reported Philip’s mission to the Samaritans after Stephen’s martyr. He healed many and made many to believe in Jesus (Acts 8:4-8). If Jesus let his two apostles did what they want, how could God receive many Samaritans into His kingdoms?
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– In order to make believers, we need to preach the Good News to them. We cannot condemn anyone who does not have an opportunity to hear the Good News.
– We cannot fathom God’s plan because of our limitations. Therefore, when facing opposite views and sufferings, we need to imitate Jesus and the Blessed Mother. They memorized and contemplated them; instead of questioning God’s plan, people’s intentions, or wishing them to be destroyed.
– To destroy our enemies is not the best way to solve confliction; but to make them our friends will solve all problems.