This week could be called the reading of the two rebukes. The first section recalls the disciples of Jesus getting angry with some Samaritans who do not offer them (including Jesus) hospitality. There is no indication of why this particular group of Samaritans has refused them, but the disciples are incensed. They are ready to call down fire from heaven upon these folks. We don’t hear the Samaritans words or reason, and we don’t hear the wording of Jesus’ response. Luke simply gives us the terse note of verse 55, that Jesus rebuked them (the disciples). Jesus’ methods do not allow for violence in the present context. Instead the message we see throughout the gospel accounts is that Jesus is perfectly willing to wait for the eschaton (a fancy word that means the fulfillment/completion/end of the world), and allow the judgment of God to play out in good time. The second section of the reading shows what priorities really should be first. Jesus speaks with some potential disciples about whether they really are willing to prioritize their lives rightly to follow him. Jesus comes across as extremely harsh, particularly in the case of the man wishing to bury his father (although there are some ancient cultural practices that may suggest this wasn’t a simple burial). Jesus rebukes present and potential followers, some for trying to rush some things and some for not rushing other things.
Our lives are filled with priorities. Some big, and some small. We make choices everyday about how we will live and what is important. The opening of this week’s reading tells us about focus. Jesus is focused on what is coming, on his mission. That kind of focus is easy to admire and very difficult to emulate. Are we Christians capable of ignoring the pressures of wanting to respond in anger to those who wrong us, mistreat us, or twist our beliefs and words? Are we Christians ready to offer to God our first allegiance, above country, vocation, home, and family?