Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
When Jesus set his face toward Jerusalem, advancing with his small company of twelve disciples on the long dusty road from upper Galilee in the North to far off Judea in the South, it was not just another journey. It was his final journey to Jerusalem where he would be crucified. Like soldiers in time of war, Jesus set his face toward the ordeal ahead.
In October, 1944, Private Joel Stenson was in Belgium preparing to advance against the Germans. The captain said, “Many of you are never going home.” Thinking of his wife and family, Private Stenson felt tears well up in his eyes. “Forget about home,” he said, “take care of your rifle and it will take care of you.” So, the soldiers set their faces toward Berlin.1 Like them, Jesus knew the ordeal that he was facing, but he didn’t look back, he kept looking ahead.
When Mother Teresa of Calcutta was 18 years old and leaving home to join the Loreto Sisters, her mother said, “Put your hand in [Jesus’] hand, and walk with him. Look ahead, because if you keep looking back you will go back.”
St. Bernadette of Lourdes was asked what her life was like in the convent she had joined when she was only 14 years old, after her apparitions of Mary. She said, “I am like a broom, after the sweeping is done you put it behind the door and forget about it.” She became a saint not by looking back at the visions she had enjoyed, but by setting her face toward the heavenly Jerusalem.
Once Fr. Pius was asked if he ever wanted to go back to Ireland which he had left behind as a young man. He reflected for a moment and then said, “No, I don’t want to go back, I want to go up.”
May we also courageously face whatever ordeals are to come, so that we can stand with joy before the Lord when he appears.