Jesus is strong in his resolve to go to Jerusalem to live his Paschal Mystery. To be his disciple means to walk with him to the end.
Jesus sets out for Jerusalem. He has sent messengers ahead of him to prepare his way, as John did. On the way, the Teacher shows what to be of his way means. He makes known, in the first place, that one has to be strong and brave to walk with him.
He is, of course, the sign others speak against, for to do good is to let conflict in (SV.EN I:75). But besides this, it is clear that his way does go through places of opposition. Those who are locked up in their race or ethnic group do not welcome him. They do not know why he is going to Jerusalem, but just the same, they do not like him; they go along with the tribe or the flock. Not rarely, stereotypes win; one is judged guilty by association.
Still, “strong” has nothing to do with violence and revenge. Jesus does not allow them. He does not even want that one calls another “fool.” For only God may do so; just in a story, though, in fiction.
And so, for the true Christian, strong means weak; such one can do all (see also Rom 8, 37).
Hard and strong teaching
Jesus teaches, in the second place, that to be strong is not just about not being hindered by rejection. And to teach more, he uses three short sayings that are true to life, tough, strong, sharp, baffling.
What the three sayings drive at is that to be strong and brave also means not to fear the simple life. God’s kingdom demands such life. For to walk with Jesus means to go with him from place to place to preach the Good News. Theirs is the mission to give a strong witness to God’s mercy by word and deed.
Hence, those who proclaim the Good News to the poor do not trade the outskirts for great city centers. No, they are not after power, honors, lavish entertainments or promotions; they want to serve, not that others serve them.
Nor do they let worries about things of the world delay them. They grasp that what is worth most is the kingdom of God. That is why they seek it first; they are sure that to be of the kingdom is to get from God, too, all that they need.
Needless to say, these three sayings strike those who hear them. And they get etched on the mind easier. Most of all, it puts in doubt usual way of thinking and living.
Ater all this, what is there to say next is: Do such sayings of Jesus lead us to repent and to believe in truth in the Good News? To walk with him to the end, to giving up the body and to shedding blood?
Lord Jesus, let your Spirit guide us, so that we may be strong in our resolve to stay on your path. And to be at your beck and call to follow you and work with you.
26 June 2022
13th Sunday in O.T. (C)
1 Kgs 19, 16b. 29-21; Gal 5, 1. 13-18; Lk 9, 51-62