Commentary on the Gospel of
No More Fire from Above
“Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.” - Zechariah 8:23
After years in exile, the Jewish people faced a choice. Many had become prosperous and settled in Babylon. Others returned home to Judea. Home had changed. The temple of Solomon had been destroyed. Zechariah welcomed them with the urgent task of rebuilding the temple. The prophet had visions of God’s saving presence. The Messianic age awaits the new temple. They must act quickly. Salvation depends on the sacred walls rising once again.
Walls usually keep others out. Zechariah was bold: God’s salvation is for all people. Spread the word. People from many nations will stream toward Jerusalem once they “heard that God is with you.” A tug on the prayer shawl means: “let me come too.” Yahweh leaves no one out.
Often, we stick to our own kind and mistrust others. Then something big happens and the walls come down. Drenched in floods or fleeing burning forests, we are strangers no longer. The sight of refugees crammed into cargo ships clutching their children quiets our noisy hearts. Quarrels simmer down as we ask: what can we do? How can I help? Like blessings from above, what divides us fades for a while. To be one with others in trouble drives fear away. Why then do we isolate ourselves?
Jesus was resolute. His enemies, like hornets, were in motion. Those who preach the beatitudes stir up authority. The apostles wanted him safe. Jesus did not know what lay ahead, only that the road to Jerusalem is not for those who cling to safety.
Faced with attack or insults, we often strike back. The Samaritans closed their town to Jesus and the apostles wanted revenge. “Call down fire from heaven. Let them burn. Let’s get even. We’ll show them.” And another cycle of destruction is unleashed.
“Jesus rebuked them.” To seek revenge is venom. It does not secure justice or nurture peace. What grips us in the moment can lead to years of violence. God, show us the way forward. Give us wisdom to escape the sinkhole of revenge.