Friends, in today’s Gospel Jesus rebukes James and John for their desire for vengeance. We are walking with Jesus and his disciples as they make their way to Jerusalem. As they pass through Samaria, they are refused hospitality, for their destination is Jerusalem, and this annoys the Samaritans. Bothersome? Stupid? Racist? Sure, all of those things. As a result, James and John (the sons of thunder) cry out: “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?”
Can you hear echoes of this cry up and down the ages? Whenever people have been unjustly treated, excluded, looked down upon, they experience, naturally enough, feelings of hatred and a desire to get back. Correctly enough, they will say that their family or their race or their country was offended, and so they, with justification, react.
But Jesus turns only to rebuke them. Why? Because following him and his way of nonviolence is more important than race or country or ethnic group. Our feelings for him have to go beyond even our justified feelings for these good things.