This weekend we started reading through the minor prophet Micah--a personal favorite! Today we read of Israel's rebellion against the Lord, a recurring theme among the prophets, of course. Interestingly, in the middle of the passage, we read about the people belittling God's prophet and his message of repentance (v. 6). They refuse to hear the truth about their sins and their need to forsake their evil ways while returning to the Lord. They counter Micah with pride--pride in their nation, pride in being the chosen people of God, pride in their history--and point out that God would never bring any sort of judgment upon them. Sound familiar? I think so, too. Though as Americans we are certainly not a chosen nation of God as was Old Testament (though not present-day) Israel, but American Christians tend to think of ourselves and our nation as somehow 'unique' in the plan of God for the world. Yet too often we are filled with arrogance and pride, like Israel was here, and need to be reminded that "from the one who has been entrusted with much, even more will be expected" (Lk 12.48, CSB).
In today's familiar passage, Jesus begins his journey to Jerusalem and his crucifixion. Along the way, travels through Samaria where his call to follow is consistently rejected, even by those with what seem like reasonable requests--burying a dead father and saying farewell to family. Of course, Jesus is not calling us to coldly abandon or neglect our families. He is speaking in hyperbole, as he does many times, to make the point that nothing can be more important with respect to priorities than following Christ in faith. As Basil the Great wrote, "A person who wishes to become the Lord's disciple much repudiate a human obligation, however honorable it may appear, if it slows us ever so slightly in giving the wholehearted obedience we owe to God" (Basil the Great, Concerning Baptism).