The second half of this reading speaks to Jesus’ insistence that discipleship isn’t always easy. It comes after his disciples get caught up in their response to the Samaritan village’s refusal to receive Jesus. In the same way we often do when someone we love has been hurt, they go straight to judgment and vengeance. We not only go there when people we hold near and dear are threatened, but also when we feel our ideas and beliefs are being attacked. Jesus, who apparently had expected a hospitable reception, rebukes James and John when they try to make the village pay for their refusal of him. He simply walks past and goes to the next village.
What does this show us about a human response vs. Jesus’ response to perceived harm or resistance? Maybe this is an example of the difficult path of discipleship. The easy response is to react to negative encounters with judgment and retribution. The harder path is to try to find understanding, to look for the root of the resistance, to wish the person well, and to move on. Can you think of a situation when you wished fire would rain down on someone and consume them (or maybe a less dramatic wish for harm)? Did those thoughts help in resolving the issue? What might have been a better and more helpful response? How does Jesus’ response in this situation give guidance to you as a follower?
In prayer, consider someone you have a problem with and offer a prayer of blessing over them. Leave it at that.