Sunday reflection

Reflection for the Second Sunday after Trinity

“Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Jesus, in Luke 9:51-end.

”Home is where my habits have a habitat.” Fiona Apple.

Today’s Gospel shows how little the disciples have understood the ministry of Jesus, although it’s set not long after his transfiguration. Jesus and his followers are passing through a Samaritan village and some of the disciples have gone ahead to make preparations for his arrival. However, Luke tells us that Jesus had set his face towards Jerusalem and that the villagers did not receive him. Was this because, as traditional enemies of the Jews, he had decided to focus on Jerusalem to avoid conflict with the Samaritans or was it because the villagers didn’t want him to stop? Whatever the situation, it clearly offends James and John who suggest to Jesus that they should call down fire from heaven to consume the villagers – until Jesus rebukes them and they all go to elsewhere for hospitality.

The disciples offer violence as a solution and have not yet accepted the wider vision of Jesus, who later says that he has nowhere to lay his head although even foxes have holes and birds their nests. His own ministry was spent away from his home, travelling to meet, challenge and heal those who would encounter him. Jesus tells one potential follower that he should not even delay to bury his father, so great is the call – and yet burial of their dead was one of the greatest priorities for a practising Jew. In making the point that following God’s call means setting out unconditionally, Jesus is emphasising how much is being asked of those who may follow him – and they need to be committed, rather than finding reasons to delay.

As part of this, Jesus mentions setting out to plough and says that no-one who looks back is fit for God’s kingdom. Part of the requirement when ploughing is for a straight furrow to facilitate seed planting and harvesting – if the crop lines were crooked, they were much harder to garner. Looking back to check a straight furrow is one of the quickest ways of guaranteeing that the next bit won’t be! 

Today, like those first disciples, there are many examples of those who want to look backwards rather than forwards, resort to violence when the situation is not as hoped or think up excuses for delay. Regardless, Jesus has set his face to Jerusalem but still urges us as well as his followers then to consider God’s call in our lives. For some, that will involve radical change; for others, it’s being faithful where we are and with those around us. The challenge is to make room in our hearts as well as our lives for the One who said he has nowhere to lay his head or call home – as T R Matthews’ lovely hymn puts it, “Oh come to my heart, Lord Jesus, there is room in my heart for thee.”

With my prayers; pob bendith,

Christine, Guardian.