13th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C
Rejection. We’ve all felt it. None of us like it. This gospel passage is the second time Jesus has been rejected. The first time was at the beginning of Jesus’s Galilean ministry in Nazareth, His home. I would bet Jesus didn’t like it either, especially when His family and friends ran Him out of town to throw Him down a cliff.
This time, Jesus is being rejected on His way to Jerusalem, where He is going ultimately to fulfill the scriptures, to die for us. I think Jesus knew He wasn’t exactly going to be welcomed on this leg of His journey either, even if He didn’t know exactly what his rejection was going to look like. Verse 51 says, “He resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem.” Maybe it’s a translation thing, but “resolutely determined” sounds to me like Jesus was straightening His back and giving Himself a little pep talk. Maybe something like, “Yep, You can do this. Just remember to rely on God. Ok, time to get off Your duff and get going!”
The Samaritans won’t have Him, and James and John don’t like it. “Jesus,” they say, “let’s call down fire from heaven to consume them” (v. 54). That’s my immediate reaction to rejection too. I don’t like it, so I want the people who do it to pay, so everyone can see I was right.
Jesus keeps His cooler head and His holiness and “rebukes them” (v. 55). Jesus knows it won’t be the last time or most painful time He faces rejection.
Feeling rejected and wanting retribution looks to the past. It wants internally to correct a situation that has already happened, that can’t be reordered. Once we’ve committed to Jesus’s way, to Christianity, it’s a given that we’re going to be rejected by some. Once we commit to anything, whatever it is, some will reject us. But if we’ve committed, presumably we’ve thought about it. We know the pros and cons. We know what we’re giving up, and we’ve weighed the pros to heavier. Once we’ve committed, we have to be all in, despite the rejection.
When we’re all in, we look to the future. When we’re all in with Jesus, we look to the kingdom of God. When He says, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God” (v. 62), He asks us to make sure we’ve fully committed to Him.
Jesus fully committed to us. Even on the road to Calvary, Jesus swallowed the rejection and never looked back.