The reading begins: “As the time drew near for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely took the road to Jerusalem and sent messengers ahead of him.” The half way point is Samaria. We know much about this village from other parts of the Scripture.
We know about Samaria from the story of the Good Samaritan. Jews and Samaritans do not mix. We know also the story in John’s Gospel of the woman at the well. The main difference in the two cultures is about the place of Worship. Since Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem (the Temple), this became the issue. (Jesus told the woman at the well that neither her temple or Jerusalem was the place of worship, but to worship in spirit and truth.)
It is interesting that of all people it is John, the beloved disciple who wants to “call down fire from heaven and burn them up”. No wonder he was rebuked. Jesus moves on to another town.
We see Jesus being rejected by the Samaritans and then three examples of Jesus response to three would-be followers. Two want to follow Jesus and one is called to follow him.
Discipleship is a vocation. The initiative is from the Lord. It seems unreasonable that Jesus would reject a volunteer. “I will follow you wherever you go”. Jesus’s reply to him is vague to our understanding, but I am sure it is clear to the man. “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Clearly Jesus does not initiate the vocation. It is the man’s idea. It is rejected.
The second example is the opposite. Jesus says: “Follow me”. The man has an excuse. The excuse seems reasonable to you and to me. Jesus says: “Your duty is to go and spread the good news of the kingdom of God.” This is a genuine call to discipleship.
There is still another would-be apostle volunteering his services. He was a procrastinator. He asked for more time. Jesus said to him: “Once the hand is laid to the plough, no one who looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Time is pressing on for Jesus. He is resolutely on the journey.
It is a good study in the nature of discipleship. There are enthusiastic volunteers, procrastinators and those who are counting the cost. Time is pressing. Let us go now!!!