Zec 8:20-23; Ps 87:1-7; Lk 9:51-56
This is the song in the heart of everyone who joins the festive dance in the city of the Lord Most High. With all who have been born from above, we sing and dance for joy because the Lord dwells within us even as we dwell within his holy city. Our responsorial psalm reveals the great delight with which the Lord loves his foundation upon the holy mountains. The Lord loves the gates of Zion more than any dwelling of Jacob. Indeed, we hear glorious things said about the city of God. From our ancestors in faith we hear of Egypt and Babylon. We hear tell of those nations in which we were once slaves and exiles. Yet, no beauty can surpass the nation the Lord has chosen as his own. Peoples of every nation, Philistia, Tyre, Ethiopia, desire citizenship in Zion. “One and all were born in her; and he who has established her is the Most High LORD.” The human heart is attracted to beauty and the beauty of those who sing and dance for joy attracts all people to be God’s People and to claim, “my home is within you”. Such is the excitement of Zechariah’s prophecy when he proclaims that many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts who is with His People. The Lord Jesus teaches his disciples in today’s gospel that everyone who humbles himself and becomes like a child will be a citizen of the Kingdom of God. For the LORD loves us and he adorns us with victory over hopelessness and despair. In the Carmel of her day it was a custom to take a public name and a hidden name. So, her full name was Sister Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. Both names refer to her Beloved Lord Jesus Christ. Both names are prophetic with reference to qualities of Saint Therese’s personality. She was to abide in Carmel as the most childlike member of the community, and her face was to shine with the very brightness of the Lord Jesus.
The prophet Zechariah continues to comfort and challenge those who have returned from exile. They can take great comfort in being those among whom God dwells. They are also severely challenged because many will seek to dwell with them. Many people and many strong nations will seek the favor of the LORD, and say to those who dwell in Zion, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.” Such is the glory and the cross we still bear, we who have been born from above and claim to be citizens of heaven. We must constantly make room among us for all who seek the Lord. We must welcome with open arms and genuine gladness anyone who has humbled himself to seek the Lord. By our vocation as the Children of God we share in his own divine hospitality. We can never turn away anyone who honestly seeks the Lord. Even more so, we must actively make room for them among us whatever the difficulty or inconvenience. If we are those who claim such an identity then we can expect people to take hold of the edge of our garment and seek to follow us. Those who follow the Lord will lead others to him. By the nature of our call, we are missionaries. With Saint Paul we can humbly claim, “imitate me as I imitate Christ.”
The Sons of Thunder do not hold back. In the face of rejection they ask the Lord Jesus, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” The response of the Lord Jesus is not recalled word for word, but it is remembered nonetheless. “Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village.” What was the sound of that rebuke? Did the Lord Jesus say to the other two closest disciples as he said to Peter, “Get behind me Satan! For your thoughts are not God’s thoughts!” The three disciples that Jesus took up the Mount of Transfiguration would also be the three who were closest on that night in the Garden of Gethsemane. Peter, James, and John all seem clueless about the mystery of suffering in the life of the Messiah. In Saint Luke’s account of his journey to Jerusalem, the Samaritans reject the Lord Jesus and his messengers. Does everyone conspire to keep him from his destiny? How do we conspire to keep the cross at a distance? How long will the ignorance of the first disciples continue to survive in contemporary disciples? When will we set our faces like flint and resolutely journey to Jerusalem, or wherever our self-sacrifice awaits us?