Skip to main content

21st Sunday of Ordinary Time 2013

The Word for the 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time: 
        Isaiah 66:18-21
        Psalm 117:1, 2
        Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13
        Luke 13:22-30 

Our first reading opens with the prophet Isaiah with a passage from the closing chapter. These later Isaiah passages speak of a new Heaven and a new Earth, and here the Lord says he will send fugitives to all nations to proclaim the Lord’s glory and lead them to the new Jerusalem. The choice of the word “fugitives” seems odd, but is a bit more understandable when you consider that the passage is from, for lack of a better description, Isaiah’s Final Judgment discourse. While what we read here seems pleasant enough (God calling all nations together), it is part of a larger prophecy that reminds us that not all will be coming to this new Jerusalem (using a rather unpleasant example of what happens to those who rebelled against the Lord.

Our second reading, a continuation of our journey through Paul’s letter to the Hebrews, telling us not to “disdain the discipline of the Lord…” noting that it is discipline that brings the “peaceful fruit of righteousness.”

Then in our Gospel from Luke, we have another reminder that not everyone will be saved. You may recall that we’ve spend the Summer traveling with Jesus as he makes his long journey to Jerusalem. As he continues his travels, some asks him if only a few will be saved, to which Jesus replies that many will not be “strong enough” to get through the narrow gate (again, an interesting translation with the phrase “strong enough”).

Our readings these past few weeks have been difficult. Challenging. Challenging to our complacent notion of God’s seemingly infinite capacity for forgiveness. Challenging to our relatively comfortable lives and times. Last week we had Jesus calling for the Earth to be set on fire and dividing households. Now Jesus, reminiscent of this week’s final chapter of Isaiah, tells us that there will be “wailing and grinding of teeth” as not all are let into the Heavenly banquet.

Brothers and sisters, I can’t sugar-coat this for you... Following Jesus…living the Christian life, is not easy. While we Catholics tend to shy away from the “fire and brimstone – hell and damnation” preaching of many of our Protestant brothers and sisters, favoring instead to focus on God’s love for us, we can’t and shouldn't forget that we will be judged by how well we follow God’s command… which Jesus taught us - Love God and love our neighbor. It sounds easy enough when we’re in the moment… but this is the Law that binds us continuously. Not “once in a while.” Not “when I have time.” Always. What we did yesterday only counts for yesterday. What are we doing today? Tomorrow? God wants us to better ourselves, to stretch ourselves. He wants us to overcome every new obstacle, to reach new heights. To never stop growing... evolving... because it will bring us ever closer to him.

Jesus came to challenge the status-quot. To shake us out of our complacency. To stir us to action. The Second Vatican Council taught us that we need to be active participants in our faith… not just watching on the sidelines, but getting into the game. Our readings this week shouldn't cause us to be afraid or discouraged, they should be reminders to push us forward, to do better, to rouse us to action. Does God expect perfection? No. Is God willing to forgive us our sins? YES. But God also wants us to learn from our mistakes and move on. The past is the past… not only for our sins, but for our accomplishments. What have you done for God today? What have you done for your neighbor today? This is the ongoing challenge of the Christian life. But the beauty is that we don’t travel this road alone. God and our neighbors are with us… we journey together.


Popular posts from this blog

3rd Sunday of Advent

The third Sunday of Advent marks the midpoint of the season… in Catholic terms, this is like “hump day”, where we happily see that the conclusion of our journey is within sight.  Referred to as Gaudete Sunday, it takes its name from the Latin word for rejoice.  We will hear this word several times throughout this Sunday's Mass in our prayers and our readings.  We light the rose colored candle on our Advent wreaths, rose being a mixture of Advent violet and Christmas white.  Not only is Christmas a joyous occasion to celebrate the birth of our Lord, but it reminds us that we are joyous (not fearful) of his return.

The Word for the 3rd Sunday of Advent Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11
Luke 1:46-48, 49-50, 53-54
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8, 19-28

We open with a great announcement from Third Isaiah, that the anointed brings glad tidings to the poor.  If his words sound familiar, they should.  Not only are they reminiscent to the announcement made by the angels to the shepherd in th…

4th Sunday of Lent

This Sunday we continue our Lenten journey through Salvation History with a continued focus on covenant.  We’ve already given witness to the covenants with Noah, Abraham, and Moses.  This week we turn our attention to the Davidic Covenant (the covenant with King David), or more accurately, the covenant with the monarchy of Israel.

The Word for the 4th Sunday of Lent 2 Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23
Psalms 137:1-2, 3, 4-5, 6
Ephesians 2:4-10
John 3:14-21

Our first reading comes from the end of the 2nd book of Chronicles.  Though our intent this Sunday is to remember the Davidic Covenant, our Lectionary has chosen an interesting approach.  Rather than give us a story about King David, we are presented with a story  from the end of the Babylonian Exile.  Why approach the covenant with David from this tail-end view? 

It’s an approach that actually fits very well with the Book of Chronicles, for you see, the Book of Chronicles is much more than a retelling of the story we heard in books …

Nuns and Nones... continued...

On 6-24-2016 I wrote a brief commentary on what we call the "nones"... that is, those people who check the box that says "none" when asked about their religious affiliation.  That commentary was based on an address by my former high school's principal at their 2016 graduation address.  But this topic of the "nones" returned to my attention with this article posted on our daily Angelus News email from the e-magazine Crux:

Notre Dame debuts digital platform to reach young Catholics, ‘nones’
Please take a moment to read it... 

Of particular interest is the increasing number of "nones," those people who claim no religious affiliation. I first heard this term a few years back from one of the speakers at our LA Religious Education Congress. The term itself grew out of a 2012 Pew Research study that showed this rising trend. Working as I do with the RCIA and Adult Faith Formation, this was a known issue, but the Pew study validated what ma…