21st Sunday in Ordinary Time – August 25, 2019

21C19.   Isaiah 66:18-21.   “I come to gather the nations of every language; they shall come and see my glory.”  God now chooses all peoples as his people and not just the Hebrews.

Luke 13:22-30.   “Someone asked Jesus, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” He answered them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate.”  The narrow gate is that one must do the will of God and nothing else.  Jesus said in John 15:14, “You are my friends if you do what I command you.”  We must strive, make every effort or do our utmost to obey the will of God.  In verse 27 b & c, Jesus said, “I do not know where you are from. Depart from me all you evildoers!”  They were friends of Jesus socially but not friends of the will of God.  They let him walk into their lives as acquaintances on the street but not into their hearts as the source of their life.  They did not come to Jesus from or out of a life lived in God but from some other source that treated God as someone only tangentially relevant to their lives.  Their rejection of Jesus as the Messiah earned them the title, ‘evildoers’. For that they will go to a hell that is a “wailing and grinding of teeth,” while their ancestors will go to the ‘kingdom of God’.  While they were born into the people of God, they will not get the inheritance that was to be theirs because they did not choose to follow the will of God so as to enter through the narrow gate.  Others, who were not born into the people God but nonetheless did “strive to enter through the narrow gate,” “will recline at table in the kingdom of God.”

Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24a.   “Endure your trials as ‘discipline’; God treats you as sons.”  “At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit or righteousness to those who are trained by it.”  In Hebrews 5:8 we read, “Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered.”  God gives us life to be lived advancing day by day on the road to heaven.  Daily we follow Jesus who gives us the Holy Spirit so to enable us to grow spiritually in a material world that poses many great obstacles to our entering “through the narrow gate.”  In Matthew 19:25c-26, the disciples said, “’Who then can be saved?’ Jesus looked at them and said, ‘For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible’” Paul writes in Philippians 4:13, “I have strength for everything through him who empowers me.” The joy that problems and difficulties give us is that by necessity we are driven to be much closer to God than peaceful times can ever do.  We are forced to go back and back to God to train our mortal flesh to be spiritual.  When the day our judgement comes, let us make God proud of the work he has done in us and through us.