Twenty – First Sunday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 66: 18-21
Hebrews 12: 5-7, 11-13
Luke 13: 22-30
Have you been watching the Olympics? I have loved watching the Olympics. The story I have enjoyed the most is the women’s 5000 meters when the New Zealand woman was in the crowd of runners and fell face down. The American runner was right behind her and could not avoid her and fell over her. As the New Zeeland runner laid on the ground, the American runner got up, but instead of running she bent over to help the woman up. The two began to run together until the American runner began to limp and had to stop. It was then that the New Zealand runner stopped to help her, and the two finished the race. These are the greatest athletes in the world; they belong to a small group of athletes all over the world, yet they gave up everything to help another person. We may think we belong to a privileged group, and that we have it made, our readings are here to shake us out of this thought and to keep working at doing more.
In our first reading, the prophet Isaiah is telling the people the reason to come home to Jerusalem after being set free is to give God glory and praise. God’s plan is for you to be the missionaries of the world, but to know that things are going to be done a bit differently. Things will not be done in the same-old ways.
Our writer from Hebrews, says what many of us already know. We all need to be disciplined, as a father disciplines his son. Do you know what that is like? Did we like it? No! Does it need to be done? Yes! Discipline and discipleship come from the same root, to learn. Discipline helps us to learn new ways of doing things.
In our Gospel, we hear the question,” Will there be only a few saved?” The verbs in the original Greek are all in the present, not the future. The man is asking the question assuming he is part of a privileged group, assuming he has done all he needs to do to get to heaven. Jesus makes his answer very personal as he says, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate.” What Jesus is telling him is, many will try, but the gate opening is very small. Jesus follows this up with an illustration when he says, “The door will be locked, and many will stand there knocking, and they will say, “Open the door, we ate with you and drank with you and we were with you as you taught on the streets.” Jesus will respond, “I do not know you!” If we think, we got it made, that we are a part of the chosen few, think again! The last words of our gospel holds the truth, “For behold, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
My friends in Christ, as the two runners, gave up their desires for winning a medal, to help each other cross the finish line, last; we too need to be thinking about how much more we be doing, never assume we got it made. As we come to the Eucharist, may we seek the values that will bring us joy, in a world of uncertainty. May we seek what will make us one in mind and heart with you and one another?