We tolerate without rebuke the vices with which we have grown familiar – (Publilius Syrus - Roman author 1st century BC)
Gospel text (Lk 9:51-56): As the time drew near when Jesus would be taken up to heaven, He made up his mind to go to Jerusalem . He had sent ahead of him some messengers who entered a Samaritan village to prepare a lodging for him. But the people would not receive him because He was on his way to Jerusalem . Seeing this, James and John, his disciples said, «Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to reduce them to ashes?». Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they went on to another village.
Today, in the Gospel, we can see how «James and John, his disciples said, ‘Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to reduce them to ashes?’ But Jesus turned and rebuked them» (Lk 9:54-55). These were the Apostles’ shortcomings the Lord corrected.
There is a tale about a water carrier in India who, at the end of a stick of wood he had hanging on his back, he carried two vessels: one was perfectly made but the other was half cracked in its surface and was losing most of the water. This one —quite sadly— used to glance at the other, so perfect, until one day, quite ashamed, told its owner how miserable it felt because due to its cracks it could only give him half of the water he should be selling. But the water carrier told the vessel: —When we get back home look at the flowers growing along the way. And, sure enough, the vessel did look at them: they were indeed the most beautiful flowers, but realizing its cracks were again dropping half of its water, the vessel insisted: —I am worthless, I do everything wrong. But the carrier said: —Did you notice that these flowers only grow on your side of the way? I knew you had cracks so I figured out how to take advantage of them, and I sowed the seeds of the flowers where you dropped the water and, by watering them as you did I am now able to pick these flowers for God's Mother altar. If you were not as you are, this beauty could not have been created.
In a way, we are all like this cracked vessel, but God knows quite well his sons and gives us the possibility to take advantage of our cracks-defects for something good. Thus, the apostle John —that today wants to destroy—, with Lord's correction, becomes, in his letters, the apostle of love. The chastening did not discourage him, but he could rather see the positive side of his burning temperament —impassionate— by placing it at the service of love. Let us hope we will also know how to take advantage of the corrections, drawbacks —sufferings, failures, limitations— to “start and restart”, as St. Josemaria defined saintliness: docile to the Holy Spirit in converting ourselves to God and become his instruments.