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Gospel Meditation


June 30, 2019
13th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Have you ever heard that the Gospel is radical? In our times, we hear that word and think of fundamentalists, radical activists, or extremists – people who go beyond limits to achieve their goals and may not consider themselves bound by normal propriety or morality. Their ethos might not be so different from James and John in today’s Gospel. “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” This isn’t so foreign to some of the stories of the Old Testament. Yet Jesus rebukes them. He won’t be exacting in the way his contemporaries expected. There will be no radical rain down of fire and brimstone. Jesus is radical in another way: the call to discipleship.
“The Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.” “Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks back to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.” These can be difficult passages to read. These are not normal things to hear! It can be easy for many of us to avoid the exacting nature of the Gospel, which might not be what we think it is.

James and John wanted to set the bar high for others on the outside and to punish those who didn’t meet that standard. Jesus sets the bar high for his disciples, those who say they want to follow him. He may be using some hyperbole, but it’s only to send a clear message. This is a radical call, one that has a cost. To truly put God and others first, before ourselves, will involve sacrifice. How is Jesus asking you to be radical today?