Jesus rebukes St. James and John for desiring to destroy an inhospitable Samaritan village. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by building the Virtue of Meekness so he can be more consistently meek and safeguard the peace and by pursuing the Virtue of Self-control so he can become a master of his passions and emotions.

Liturgy

26th Week in Ordinary time – Tuesday – Lk 9:51-56

Commentary

After His several-year missionary campaign in Galilee and elsewhere, Jesus turns toward His Holy city of Jerusalem to be “received up”; this refers to His glorious entry into Jerusalem, His proclamations in the Temple, His Passion, Resurrection and Ascension. Jesus “set His face” towards Jerusalem, a steely determination to do the Father’s will which echoes Isaiah’s prophecy that the Suffering Servant will set his “face like flint” against his enemies (Is 50:7). 

Jesus leads and directs His men, sending an advance party to a Samaritan village to prepare for His arrival. Samaritans had Jewish roots but had intermingled with pagan religions, and, as a result, Samaritans and Jews had great animosity against each other. Because the Samaritans know of Jesus and that He is going to Jerusalem, they refuse to receive Him. The Samaritans, perhaps inspired by Satan, offer opposition to Jesus’ mission. Jesus is undeterred and goes instead to a different village. 

The Apostles James and John, who, with Peter, make up Jesus’ core team, are called the “Sons of Thunder” by Jesus, Himself (Mk 3:17); they ask Jesus if they should call down fire from Heaven to destroy the Samaritans. Remarkably, something in Jesus’ own demeanor causes them to assume that He might destroy a city, that He has the power to do so and that they can share in that supernatural power. Jesus rebukes them: He did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. 

Be awed by Jesus Christ

Be awed and frightened by the Combative Personality of Jesus: Jesus selects highly combative men to be His inner circle, including Peter who carries a sword and uses it to chop off another man’s ear (Jn 18:10-11), and James and John, whom Jesus calls the “sons of thunder” for their combative personalities; James and John, after being constantly with Jesus for three years, are convinced that Jesus would approve of destroying a village with lightning.

Be meek and safeguard the peace

Realize: While some Catholic men fall into a sinful false meekness which accepts or is indifferent to great sins against the innocent and the Church, others fail in the opposite way by being “sons of Thunder” who are in a frequent state of wrath and wish to attack and punish those who oppose Jesus; neither safeguards the peace. 

Believe: Reflect upon The 5th Commandment and the call to Safeguard Peace (CCC 2302-2306; Mt 5:21-26).

Pray: Jesus, Perfection of Meekness, help me build the Virtue of Meekness (a part of Temperance) so I avoid sinful indifference and unrighteous wrath, I grow in openness, calmness, patience, and forbearance, and I wisely confront evil and error and seek to safeguard the peace, in accordance with Your will; Lord, allow me to be forgiven of my sins in Your Sacrament of Penance.  

Become a master of the passions

Realize: While Jesus rebukes James and John for their imprudent and wrathful desire to “bid down fire” and destroy an entire village of Samaritans, elsewhere, Jesus prudently exhibits righteous anger (in clearing the Temple, in confrontations with Pharisees), but never the deadly vice of wrath.

Believe: Review the Catechism’s teaching on the Morality of the Passions (CCC 1762-1774).

Pray: Jesus, Perfection of Virtue, help me build the Virtue of Self-Control (a part of Temperance) so I more consistently tame and harness my passions to serve Your will in all that I think, say, and do; Lord, strengthen me in my efforts to control my thoughts and actions by allowing me to receive Your Most Precious Body and Blood in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.