21st Sunday in Ordinary Time Homily v25 August 2019
Is 66: 18 – 21Heb 12: 5-7,11- 13. Luke 13: 22 – 30
My brothers and Sisters, the Christian life style is a blessing in every way but it is also a challenge. The journey is a hard one as the writer of the letter to the Hebrews tells us this morning. There are lots of trials along the way, and we are disciplined by God -we must see life’s situations as moments of learning- teaching us how to be disciples of Christ at every turn, always living by His Values and attitudes. Living always in love of the other.
And we all can testify, I am sure, that we do well at this sometimes and not very good at other times. We can really say – we are seeking to become better disciples of Christ. We are seeking to live the Kingdom of God, that ideal community of folks who live in God and with God.
So, when we hear the question in the Gospel “Lord will only a few be saved?” We have to wonder – who asks that question of Jesus, someone with real self confidence that they are included? So, Jesus gives a real lesson in just what is required to be in that number. He says, strive to enter through the narrow gate. So, what is that really? It seems Jesus is detailing God’s values – God’s expansive vision. And how to live there in order to be included in those who are Saved.
Of course, it’s by the relationship we have with Jesus. How we are with him, the gospel puts it this way: It’s not enough just to be in his company, one must be like Him, live his very life.
Thomas Aquinas helps us understand what we bring to this endeavor. He wrote about the Transcendental qualities of being: oneness, truth, goodness and beauty. From God’s point of view, this is in our DNA — living out of these qualities bring us to the life of God who is love. Can we live there in God’s love? If we can, we will truly be the community of the saved. We will be one.
To live there requires some concrete realities. So, if you read between the lines of the scriptures for today, I think we can name a few of these virtues that need our attention.
– To have a radical hospitality – just like Jesus had – eating with tax collectors and sinners. Healing the pagan women. So, we welcome people from other nations, and with other languages. What does the prophet Isaiah say? “People will come from east and west, north and south.” Seems pretty clear to me – all are welcome in the Kingdom.
This of course requires a radical openness, to see all people as part of God and as brothers and sisters to us, all are equal, all are worthy. This changes how we live as community – how we live together. My experience of the world tells me that every person wants really just what I want – love and belonging. Why is it so hard to share that??? And proclaim the Lord’s message clearly. We build the Kingdom by living Kingdom values.
So when we start reflecting on these realities, we see that it takes another radical virtue – the virtue of conversion – a radical conversion, a radical letting go of our vision of life to accept God’s vision. To see how God sees and loves. Race, gender, color and religion don’t matter; it’s love and acceptance that matter. Accepting God’s unconditional Love.
You know the scripture – for those who do not love the brother or sister whom they have seen cannot love God whom they have not seen. So, we must come to know God, so we can love like God. Living there we come to that expansiveness that God showers on all people. It’s accepting this love, this inclusiveness that brings us into the saved.
Jesus is teaching us by this parable that we had better take warning; we need an expansive vison of life like God’s vision in the kingdom, all are included – if you don’t think so – you won’t be.
Another issue here for the kingdom is a radical humility. Knowing and living clearly, it’s not about me. This is the Christian life – One can’t focus on oneself. The Christian way is always about the other – God and others — which leads us to be instruments of mercy, forgiveness, peace, and new life. To be a means of God’s loving kindness and faithfulness to all. That’s really our Christian vocation.
So how do we translate this teaching into our world? Mary McGlone, commenting on these biblical passages says:
These readings present a picture of God’s banquet hall as the most ecumenical, the most international and interreligious gathering space there ever will be.
The guest list is restricted to people who don’t want it limited. The only people locked out are those who think they’ve earned the special key that gets them in and keeps the riffraff out. Their problem is that they would be just as unhappy inside as outside. There’s no reason to let them ruin the party.
With that thought maybe the question for each of us to answer is: Just who is locking the door?