TWENTY-FIRST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Is 66:18-21; Ps 117:1,2; Heb 12:5-13; Lk 13:22-
They will come from east and west, north and south. Lk 13:29
When celebrating today’s liturgy, we are urged to “save the date,” and be ready to attend God’s messianic banquet; it’s scheduled to be celebrated in Jesus’ house, at the end of time. His invitation to this great party is open to all who come knocking at the door of heaven and are eligible to enter. We’re told in the scriptures then, that the criteria for attending this celebration is simple: have love in one’s heart, and a genuine spirit of openness to all, regardless of race, language, religion or culture. In fact, in the gospel, Jesus says that God’s guest list is limitless: “people will come from the east and the west and from the north and south and will recline at the table in the kingdom of God.”
In the first reading, Isaiah foretells this heavenly banquet, and prophesizes that attendees will come from nations of every language; “they shall come and see God’s glory.” In the same sentence, the prophet reminds us that God knows each one’s works and thoughts, so… to be included on the guest list, one must come before God, totally free from discrimination and prejudice. He also emphasizes, that to seek any status in religious, civil or social groups will amount to nothing.
Shifting from a prophetic Old Testament writing - to a New Testament letter to Hebrews - we’re reminded that the way to salvation does not come through cheap grace. No! The letter’s author writes: “Those whom the Lord loves he disciplines.” Any reward to eternal life involves discipline, and discipline can lead to discipleship. Indeed, to become a true disciple of Jesus, everyone is required to endure trials, strengthen their weak knees and drooping hands, and work to walk the “narrow path” home to heaven.
Finally, in Luke’s gospel, Jesus reiterates how deeply he values diversity and inclusiveness, and how he expects these to be integrated into our personal attitudes and actions. As he walked through towns and villages, someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” A question like this seems to come from a person who sees himself as an “elite’ – one of the holiest of the holy! Jesus responds by giving a graphic description of “end time” and how the saved will be allowed into an eternal celebration –and how others will be kept out. He reiterates Isaiah’s preaching that only total acceptance of others qualifies for entrance into the banquet hall. Jesus teaches that anyone who thinks they are better in mind, body, or spirit than anyone else may discover that the paths they walked in life, with closed hearts and minds, lead to nowhere. Indeed, what God loves is diversity and inclusiveness. These virtues will be required to enter the celebration of eternity on the last day! Who among us would ever want to settle for less, and to be left off God’s party guest list? No one, I’m sure! Instead, let’s commit now, to save the date, and get ready to “meet and greet” each other, at the Second Coming of Jesus!
Sister Shirley Jeffcott, OP