13th Sun C
Christian conversion is promoted by conversation. This section is a response to and a development on the knowledge gained from the commentary section.
This Sunday's Exposition
At the end of the day on which James and John had wanted to call down fire on the Samaritan village that had refused Jesus hospitality, it would have been interesting to listen to what the disciples had to say about their behaviour. Having been welcomed in another village, fed and snug in bed, would they have looked back and wondered why they acted so testily and aggressively? Would James and John have admitted that their overkill was overkill? Earlier they had overreacted when the man outside their circle was casting our demons in Jesus' name. Then, as well, Jesus rebuked them.
What we see, here, in the disciples is an attitude seen all too often in religiously minded people: a sense of superiority, which when challenged, leads to anger and even violence. It is this attitude that people like Christopher Hitchens and the militant atheists see as integral to religion and is the grounds for their trenchant criticism. How surprised they might be if they realised that, in this area, Jesus is on their side. Jesus truly saw this as a real issue as he had to continue to rebuke his disciples.
Religion can be dangerous. It can make us good, holy and gentle but it can also make us proud, prickly and angry. How we react to insults is a good sign of the state of our religion. If, like the disciples, we act with aggression, we must seriously question the state of our faith. But if we can act with gentleness, kindness and even with a degree of equanimity in the face of insult and rejection, we can be sure that we are true followers of the humble Jesus who went so gently to his cross.