This homily is based on Luke 9:51-62.
I was reminded of a quote from writer Anne Lamott when I read today’s Gospel reading.
She makes a good point. It’s a real tendency in people, including myself.
I don’t know about you, but I so get how the brothers James and John felt in this episode of our Lord’s life. To put it bluntly, they were pissed off. The reason? Jesus was barred from entering a Samaritan town and the people would not welcome him. So they asked their Master, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?”
What did our Lord do instead? He scolded the two disciples and then simply moved on.
That passage gave me pause. It led me to examine myself. It made me realize how different my reaction would have been from the Lord! If I had been Jesus, I might have–shamefully!–given my approval–or at least wanted to! Or I would have at the very least shown my appreciation for James and John for being concerned and taking my side!
But not Jesus.
It opened my eyes to just how different the Lord is from me and how much I need to grow spiritually. So Anne Lamott’s words are a good reminder to us that we shouldn’t fashion God in our own image; rather, we should let ourselves be molded into His.
A friend recounts an incident in a supermarket when as she was lining up at the cashier counter, a man barged into the spot in front of her with a trolley full of groceries. Her first impulse, of course, was to get upset and to confront the man. But for some reason, against her usual nature, in fact, she decided to let it go. Perhaps he had some kind of emergency? Maybe he needed to rush home for some legitimate reason?
For some reason, she made the decision to give the man the benefit of the doubt and instead of simmering in resentment, she chose to bless him, to pray for him that things might turn out well whatever it is he might be rushing for. In fact, she decided there and then: Even if there was absolutely no legitimate reason for him for cutting in line–bless him anyway.
My friend then looked at me straight in the eye and swore that making that little choice made all the difference. Instead of calling down fire from heaven, she called down blessing on this stranger.
So this Sunday morning, let’s ask ourselves: When others wrong me or harm me, what will we call down from heaven? Will we yield to our instincts and call down fire? Or will we choose to connect to our better self and call down blessings even upon those we disapprove of or don’t understand?
If we want to be fashioned into the Lord’s image, we know the answer.