The 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time
St. Luke reports the angelic message to the shepherds: “This day in David’s city a savior has been born to you, the Messiah and Lord.”
Then throughout the Gospel, St. Luke spells out what it means that Jesus is our Savior. In today’s Gospel, the evangelist begins the account of Jesus’ ﬁnal and very determined journey to Jerusalem – chapters 9 to 19 of the Gospel are about the journey that will bring an end to His earthly life but not His saving love.
As we heard, St. Luke recounts four encounters and in each, we learn something of the One we believe is our Lord and Savior. Our belief is never some kind of speculation or fantasy; it is very much rooted in reality, the reality of the Incarnate One – God the Word made ﬂesh – like us in all things but sin and always the Word of Revelation – in this case through James and John, through the one Jesus invited and the other two who came seeking.
I believe Jesus gazed on each with love as He did with the rich young man; He perceived their sincerity, He saw into their hearts and He saw their need to be instructed in the way, the Way that He is, always Savior.
James and John had a nickname “the sons of thunder” – their zealous desire to annihilate the Samaritans manifests their “thunder” and Jesus rebukes them because they have missed the point of being His disciples. Jesus in His own words, “The Son of Man has come not to condemn but to save.”
To the one who needed time to bury his father and to the one who had to say farewell to his family – His message is “The Kingdom takes priority”. Jesus loved His own and He loved them to the end; His love was never possessive nor did He allow Himself to be possessed by anyone, not even His own beloved Mother. His awesome freedom to love and to serve is His gift to us as Savior.
To the one who was so willing to follow, so attracted to Him, Jesus made very clear what following Him would mean: no glamor, no riches, no convenience because such is the Lord’s freedom from riches, power, anxiety – as a hymn so beautifully puts it: “Though rich, He became poor for our sake” – such is Jesus our Savior. In each encounter Jesus gave these men something to reﬂect on – whether they did or not, we have no knowledge but we are given truth for our own lives to reﬂect and live and that is most important.
There is a lesson on prayer in all of this. Notice Jesus did not give them what they wanted – a consuming ﬁre, time to bury, time for farewells, following without thought – rather Jesus gave them what they needed, perhaps not realizing at the moment this is what they really needed.
In our relationship with the Lord, surely we present to Him our concerns, needs, intentions and they may be right on target. But at the foundation of every prayer is this “Your will be done!” In our prayer do we ever say to the Lord: “Lord, grant me what I need” – whether I am aware of the need or not. In my prayer am I truly seeking Jesus to be the Savior of my whole life, of more than my “wants” no matter how real or pressing.
True salvation is conversion to our depths – the journey of a lifetime – the journey only fulﬁlled completely in eternity and, for us, who believe Jesus is our Savior, the journey has begun. We are on our way, the Way that is Jesus Christ Himself, our Lord – the Lord of our deepest needs. The Lord who always looks upon us with a divine, saving love.