Shall we destroy this village?

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Readings for September 28, 1999: Zechariah 8, 20-23 + Luke 9, 51-56

James and John, sometimes called the "sons of thunder", today live up to their name. "Jesus, can we destroy this village, huh, please, please, can we?" To the Jews, the Samaritans were not polite company. Proper Jews did not associate with "those" kind of people. So the first remarkable thing is that Jesus would enter the Samaritan village.

Next, Jesus resists the destructive impulses of his disciples. We can imagine that they were outraged -- here they were willing to associate with this people who typically were discriminated against, but those who had been marginalized weren't interested in their company. "Who do these people think they are? Don't they know who we are? They should be happy to have us visit them!"

But this isn't always the way it goes. People who have been discriminated against and marginalized don't always light up with joy when their oppressors show up on their door -- even if the oppressors are ostensibly on missions of mercy or hospitality.

Zechariah continues to offer hope to the exiles returning to Jerusalem. He tells this people -- rejected, hated, driven from their homes, scorned -- "One of these days, ten people will grab onto every Jew and beg to be taken to Jerusalem!" A bold prophecy, considering that Jerusalem was in ruins and there wasn't much reason to go there. But the Lord of Hosts promised to be in Jerusalem, and this will make it a city of hope and refuge.

Thoughts regarding orthopraxis:

If we go to do the works of mercy among the poor, and find that our presence is resented, how do we react? Do we blame those who reject us, or do we understand the deeper reasons for what is happening? Do we make our parishes, our homes, our lives welcoming places for the Lord of Hosts to dwell, so that others will wish to come with us and be with the Lord?

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