Tuesday, October 1, 2013

God Plays the LOOOOooooong Game

I know, from the graphic you probably expected a post on the theory of evolution.  No, but I am writing about evolution of another sort - evolution of the heart.  Spiritual "evolution," like material evolution, is a work of Divine Providence; and today's Gospel reading furnishes us with an example:
When the days for Jesus to be taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem, and he sent messengers ahead of him. On the way they entered a Samaritan village to prepare for his reception there, but they would not welcome him because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem.
When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, "Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?" Jesus turned and rebuked them,
and they journeyed to another village. (Lk 9:51-56)
I know what you're thinking, "Alright Kapler, where's the evolution?"  Well, contrast both the Samaritans and the Apostle John's behavior here with what we read in Acts of the Apostles:

Philip went down to a city of Samar′ia, and proclaimed to them the Christ.  And the multitudes with one accord gave heed to what was said by Philip, when they heard him and saw the signs which he did …

Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samar′ia had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit;  for it had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit

(Acts 8:5-6, 14-17)
Back in the Gospel, Jesus didn't want any part of John's plan to destroy the Samaritans.  No, the Lord looked ahead to the day when they would receive Him!  God is forbearing.  Instead of swooping in with automatic divine justice, He waits patiently for us to open ourselves to Him. (I'm not saying that He will wait forever; He does have a day appointed for judgment.)

But these two passages bear witness to the power of God's grace to work on us, and in us, over the passage of time.  And I'm not just talking about the Samaritans - I see great significance in the fact that it was John who accompanied Peter to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation to them!  The John who wanted to call down the fire of judgment upon the people of that region found himself, just a few short years later, laying his hands upon them and praying for the coming of the Spirit.  

And you have to love the Lord's sense of humor: John did "call down fire from heaven to consume them" (Lk 9:54), but it was the same fire that had consumed him on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:3) - the Holy Spirit Himself!

Disclaimer - I have no proof that it is the same village/city of the Samaritans being spoken of in Luke and Acts.  These were the thoughts that struck me as I meditated on today's Gospel; and I offer them to you in all humility.

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