Sunday, June 26, 2016
Thirteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time
||1 Kings 19:16b, 19-21
Psalm 16:1-2, 5, 7-11
Galatians 5:1, 13-18
When I was in high school I signed up for a special district-wide class on criminal justice. The idea was to gather from every school students who were considering a career in law enforcement.
I had to travel across town to another school for the course and it turned out all the other students in the class went to that school. I was the only outsider. For an entire year the whole class treated me rudely, made fun of me, and called me offensive names. Looking back, it was one of the best years of my life.
I had been taught by my family and my faith to turn the other cheek, and I strived all year to do just that. I never lashed out at these other students; I just took their insults and did my best to be the better person. This experience has had a lasting impact on me.
It came to mind when reading this week's Gospel. Jesus wants to visit a Samaritan town, but the local people refuse to welcome him. Jesus' disciples ask him, "Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?" But Jesus rejects this idea.
To be sure, when I was in that class daily with students who refused to welcome me I wanted to "call down fire from heaven," but by the grace of God I was able to lean more heavily on the message from St. Paul this week: "Live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh."
So often we are in danger of letting our worldly passions rule our life. But Jesus and St. Paul in unison reject this idea and call us to live by the Spirit.
Living by the Spirit does not mean that we cannot have passion; rather, it means we have surrendered to the will of God and have allowed his will to guide our passions.
As with most things in the spiritual life, it's simple but not easy. We must be steeped in the things of the Spirit and avoid the thoughts and activities mired in the flesh if we are to have a fighting chance. But fight we must, lest we call down that fire from heaven and end up singed by our own wrath.
This column is offered in cooperation with The North Texas Catholic of Fort Worth, Texas.