Parishioner's Gospel reflection
25 August 2019: 21st Sunday of the Year (Cycle C)
Contributor: Tony Luis
This is an important Gospel passage titled ‘Narrow Door’ as it gives us an insight into the criteria that will enable us to enter the kingdom of God. Our Lord assures us that everyone from the four corners of the world is welcome. There are no favourites and no places are reserved not even for the chosen people. He cautions us that God’s thinking of holiness is not necessarily our thinking. We may think that we qualify to enter the kingdom but maybe in for a bad surprise.
Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem when he is approached by someone who asks ‘Lord will only a few be saved?’ Perhaps this question was asked out of anxiety or out of curiosity on how he could enter the kingdom of God which he thought may not be big enough or because he heard about the power of the kingdom.
Jesus responds with some forthright advice ‘Strive to enter through the narrow road, for many I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able’.
Jesus advises us that we need to strive, to make every effort, to leave no stone unturned to follow his teachings and keep God’s commandments in a disciplined and ongoing basis if we are to squeeze in through a narrow road with no earthly baggage.
‘When the owner of the house has got up and shut the door and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door saying, ‘Lord open to us’, In reply he will say ‘I do not know where you come from’. Then you will say ‘We ate and drank with you and you taught in our streets’. But he will say, ‘I do not know where you come from, go away from me you evildoers. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you and yourselves thrown out’.
Clearly a reference to the hypocritical self-serving elite like the scribes and Pharisees and elders who will be badly surprised and those who persecuted the prophets of old.
‘Then people will come from East West North and South and will eat in the kingdom.’
This is a reference to the Gentiles who will be just as welcome and granted full admission as anyone else.
‘Indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.’
Jesus was signalling that God’s love extends to everyone even to the people that he associated with and talked about like the tax collectors and sinners and not just the chosen few or the scribes and Pharisees and elders who thought they were above all else.
This advice by Jesus is just as relevant for us today. Merely being Christians and attending regular church services will not be enough. What will matter is our constant striving to live holy and Christian lives, living up to God’s teachings and his commandments, especially those of loving and serving God and our neighbour.
1 Sept 2019: 22nd Sunday of the Year (Cycle C)
Contributor: A Parishioner
Luke 14: 1. 7-14
Christ is invited to a Sabbath meal at a leading Pharisee’s house full of notable attendees. We know he is being watched and judged as he arrives. They would undoubtedly have been looking to see if he measured up to their harsh human and religious requirements, looking for some social or more probably blasphemous slip. I wonder where Christ chose to sit as he moved deeper into the room? Perhaps he lingered for a while on his way to a seat, talking here and there to those he knew, exchanging greetings, weighing up the situation; observing others, as they also did. But he looked to see what lay in their hearts, not whether they met human standards. Aware of their judgemental mentality, false values and wish to entrap him, he offers them spiritual wisdom adapted to their individual roles as both host and guests, though that wisdom carries the same message. Pride in one’s own status and recognition in human eyes should be of little importance. If we seek this as our priority we are on an inevitable path to human rejection and humiliation, and loss of spiritual salvation. We are called instead to act in a way valued in God’s eyes, one that will lead to reconciliation with God. This path requires a humble attitude, one characterised by love and service to other. Self aggrandisement and attachment to human recognition profoundly obstruct our path to salvation. So fundamental is a humble heart for those truly seeking God’s will that as one of his final acts on earth at the Last Supper Christ chose to wash the feet of the apostles and instructed them to serve each other in like manner rather than to ‘lord it over*’ each other.
Those attending the Sabbath meal would have recognised the deep truths of Christ’s wisdom. No-one present would now dare to raise their voices to criticise Christ’s behaviour or words, nor where or by whom he finally chose to seat himself, when their own self-importance and lack of genuine spiritual goodness had been so fully if gently exposed.
Let’s ask Christ to make us more alert to those occasions when our sense of our own self-worth and our desire to please others blocks our way to seeking God’s will.