27 June 2010 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time
1 Kings 19, 16-21; Psalm 16; Gal 5, 1-13; Luke 9, 51-62
I found a story from the book, The Best of Bits and Pieces, compiled and edited by Arthur F. Lenehan:
An apple grower had built up a good mail-order business and was justifiably proud of his product. His apples were wonderful — crisp, juicy bright red, and shiny as a carefully polished brass rail. His customers came to expect only the best in taste and appearance.
Then one year a hailstorm occurred just before the harvest. Nearly every apple was marred by hail.
The apple grower had thousands of orders and checks, and his customers were fully expecting baskets and boxes of his bountiful fruit for the holiday season. He had a problem. If he sent out the pockmarked fruit he would have thousands of dissatisfied customers and his business would suffer — perhaps even dry up.
The problem was in the appearance of the apples. How could he turn this liability into an asset?
The fact was they tasted great. The taste was better than normal because cold weather improves the flavor of apples when they’re approaching ripeness. So the grower decided to fill the orders he had. But with each shipment he enclosed a card that said, “Note the hail marks that have caused minor skin blemishes on some of these apples. They are proof of their growth at a high mountain altitude where the sudden chills from hailstorms help firm the flesh, develop the fruit sugars, and give these apples their incomparable flavor.”
Nobody sent the apples back. And the next year, the apple grower got orders with many notes expressing a preference for hail-marked apples rather than unblemished ones.
In the Gospel, Jesus passes through Samaria, the easiest way from Galilee to Jerusalem, his final destination. But the Jews avoided it because of centuries-old rift with the Samaritans. The Samaritans employed all means to prevent pilgrims who would pass through their land to Jerusalem. As expected, Jesus was rejected. So, James and John were angry at the Samaritans, except Jesus. Jesus just took another route.
The apple grower and Jesus were presented with difficulties in reaching their goals. The solutions to their problems were similar but wise. They just took a different road. Often, difficulties block the road to our goals. Sometimes the best solution is not to curse the difficulty like James and John, but to use another approach like the apple grower or simply, just take another way.