|The disciples are so relatable. I imagine their furrowed brows raised while they say, “huh?” at so many of Jesus’ words and actions.|
There is a brief story in Luke 9 beginning with verse 51. A Samaritan village refuses to receive Jesus because of his mission to go to Jerusalem – to the cross. James and John ask, “Do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” We don’t have the exact dialogue following that question; all we know is that Jesus doesn’t answer it. He just turns and rebukes the disciples. That is it. Then they go on to another village.
“Can’t we all just get along?” (words spoken by Rodney King following riots in Los Angeles) was a phrase in the mid-nineties that became a sign of ridicule for people who thought we all can just sit around a campfire and sing “Kumbaya”. Don’t we wish. Getting along is hard. In marriages, in families, in congregations, in a nation and between countries. Deep disagreement cannot just be wiped off of the table. Perhaps we expect too much of one another – things we simply cannot give or even refuse to receive. And, I concede, some matters might never be reconciled this side of the Resurrection. And yet, we can do those small but mighty things for, with and to one another that say ‘love’ without us having even to open our mouth. It starts small and it starts with us. With me. With you. When we allow and even invite Christ to work in and through our broken hearts and weary spirits, healing begins.
Yes, small moments of love – seeing them, creating them, focusing on them, might actually be possible. I can’t rain down fire on my opponents (and I don’t really want to). There is no law that will fix division. No political leader. Love is the only option. Love is how this world is mended. Neighborly love; brotherly love, even romantic love. To look someone in the eye and say ‘thank you’. To admit that you don’t understand but want to. To see the person at the dinner table as a gift and not a burden or a threat. To refrain from speaking louder and louder so your voice can overpower other voices. To seek common ground in matters that are not utterly divisive so mending of relationships even has a chance. This is where the gap closes between us. Yes, Jesus could have said: let’s rain down fire, these folks deserve it. Make it hurt a little to wake them up. But: Jesus rebuked the disciples for wanting to cause such hurt and leads them into the next village. He also had Peter put away his sword in the Garden of Gethsemane when fighting truly would have been a matter of life and death.
I agree, we probably cannot all just get along all the time and “Kumbaya” will indeed have to be reserved for summer nights around a campfire. However, we might just consider moving along or putting away the sword – these simple but oh so important signs of love.Christ has no body now but mine. He prays in me, works in me, looks through my eyes, speaks through my words, works through my hands, walks with my feet, and loves with my heart. -St. Theresa of Avilla