13th Sunday in Ordinary time

Last week we heard about our new government’s budget aimed at radically healing public finances. Some people think this is a painful, but necessary move, others suggest different solutions. Probably everyone is worried that the cuts will affect us greatly. Everybody is concerned about the future. I’m not going to offer my opinion on this matter; this is just a clever approach to explaining the gospel.

It looks like the passage is in two parts; the first one speaks about the hostile reception of the two Apostles and their readiness to set the village on fire in revenge. These two apostles suggest radical action, but Jesus doesn’t allow them. The second part of the gospel speaks about three other people who want to follow Christ, but each of them has his own “buts”; in opposition to these “buts” Jesus suggests to them to make a radical decision and take radical action. So we recognize two different ways of being radical; and we guess that one of them is unacceptable for the Lord while the other is preferable.

The radicalism of the two Apostles directs other people; this radicalism makes excessive demands, unreasonable conditions, expects heroic actions; to enhance its effect this radicalism threatens severe punishment. We often find this kind of radicalism drives either whole organizations (usually with a mix of religious and political elements) or a single individual. Both are similarly dangerous: bomb attacks are more spectacular, but the suffering of one person affected by a single oppressor is similar. This kind of radicalism must be fully rejected.

Jesus offers another kind of radicalism: the one directed at myself. This is a radicalism to overcome evil in me; a radicalism which makes high demands of me; a radicalism of high aspirations; a radicalism of unconditional love. Today’s second reading speaks about it clearly and profoundly: “You were called […] to liberty; but be careful, or this liberty will provide an opening for self-indulgence. Serve one another, rather, in works of love”. Jesus calls us to be radical in self-control and in love; to be radical with ourselves and understanding towards others.