Homily for the thirteenth Sunday of the year - Year C - Lc. 9:51-62
Father Daniel Meynen
" When the days drew near for Jesus to be received up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him; but the people would not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, «Lord, do you want us to bid fire come down from heaven and consume them?» But he turned and rebuked them. And they went on to another village.
"As they were going along the road, a man said to him, «I will follow you wherever you go.» And Jesus said to him, «Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.» To another he said, «Follow me.» But he said, «Lord, let me first go and bury my father.» But he said to him, «Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.» Another said, «I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.» Jesus said to him, «No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.» "
" When the days drew near for Jesus to be received up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. "
This is a rather banal event: Jesus sends two or three disciples before him in order to prepare the place of his rest for the night. But this event, though banal, has a very important significance: it has an eschatological sense, that is to say a sense which concerns the realities of the world to come. "He set his face to go to Jerusalem." Jesus orients himself directly toward the holy city, Jerusalem, the terrestrial city that is the sign and the symbol of the celestial city, the city of the Great King of the Universe! Saint John, in his Revelation, saw the city of Heaven and it appeared to him as the city of Jerusalem: "I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God..." (Rev. 21:2)
Jesus, in walking toward Jerusalem, is walking toward the celestial city, the new Jerusalem! Jesus is on his way to the triumph of his glory: throughout all his life here on earth, he proclaims his glorification and triumph at the time of his return, at the end times! What did he come to do on earth if not to proclaim the Kingdom of God? Jesus walks toward Jerusalem! His triumph is near, and he sends ahead some disciples to prepare for this unique and incomparable event! Let us remember Palm Sunday... On that occasion, in order to prepare for his glorious entrance into Jerusalem, Jesus had also sent some disciples: they were to look for a donkey colt that was to serve as his mount. "Jesus sent two of the disciples, saying, «Go into the village opposite, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat; untie it and bring it here.» " (Lk. 19:30)
" The people would not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. "
The goal is fixed, the path to follow is set and definite: Jerusalem! But the way is full of traps and snares. The Samaritans don't want to receive people who walk toward Jerusalem: don't they represent those who want to avoid at any price to hear anything about Christ's return? But we say every Sunday, in the Creed, "He shall come again in glory to judge the living and the dead; of whose kingdom there shall be no end... I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come."
" As they were going along the road, a man said to him, «I will follow you wherever you go.» And Jesus said to him, «Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.» "
This seems paradoxical: Jesus sends his disciples ahead to prepare a place for him to rest, and, as he is walking, he meets a man to whom he declares that he has no place where he can lay his head! This shows us clearly that the most important sense of these words is the eschatological sense of which we spoke above: Jesus sends his disciples in order to prepare for his return in glory in the end times! Meanwhile, Jesus and his disciples walk here and there, proclaiming the kingdom of God, always going forward, in spite of obstacles and traps of all kinds... We know this because Jesus said: "Was there not a necessity for the Christ thus to suffer, and then enter into His glory?" (Lk. 24:26)
" Another said, «I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.» Jesus said to him, «No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.» "
Once we meet Christ, only one thing is and must be important for us: to accomplish the mission which he confided in us! Yes, he who meets Christ in his life, through the calling of grace, must imitate Saint Paul, when he said: "But one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus!" (Phil. 3:13-14) Surely, only the future must count for us! What we are going to do for Christ, what we accomplish today to proclaim the kindgom of God in all aspects of our life, this is what is important, this is what gives our life on earth all its meaning!
May the Most Holy Virgin Mary help us to follow her divine Son, always and everywhere!