Gospel Reflection for Sunday 25th August
The first shall be last…
Imagine the scene: you’re standing for some time in the queue in the post office or supermarket waiting you turn to be served. The manager then brings a person from the back of the queue and serves them before you. Imagine the anger and frustration you would feel. Well, this this how the gospel this Sunday ends when Jesus tells us; ‘Yes, there are those now last who will be first, and those now first who will be last.’
Jesus begins the gospel by saying that some will knock on the door of the house only to be told by the owner that he does not know them and they can’t come in; they are turned away. Even when they protest and tell that they know him, that they ate and drank with him, he still refuses to let them in. Imagine their frustration and disappointment on hearing and experiencing this. What could this possibly mean for us today?
We have to be very careful that we do not become casual or complacent about relationship with Jesus. This challenging and perhaps disturbing gospel reminds us that simply knowing Jesus is not enough to saved. In Matthew’s gospel Jesus says something similar; ‘It is not those who say to me, Lord, Lord, who will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.’ Again, these words from Jesus are not easy to hear and they are very challenging. The message in our gospel this Sunday is far from the comforting, open, broad and wide path to salvation that we would like to hear.
Those who will saved may not be those who expect it; the first shall be last and the last shall be first. The religious elite at the time of Jesus, the Scribes and the Pharisees assumed that they would be the first to be saved by God. They knew the commandments, they faithfully kept all their rules, regulation and rituals. And, yet, on numerous occasions, Jesus told them that that they were far from God. But it was those they despised and looked down on; the poor, the sick the lepers, the widows and the sinners that Jesus said were loved by God and the first who would be saved. This was a hard thing to hear then and it no easier for us to hear today.
Our relationship with Jesus is no guarantee nor is it an insurance policy through which we pay our dues and then expect a payment in return. If it were as simple as this, we would be in essence be earning our freedom and salvation by our own efforts. But salvation is free gift given to us by God us out love. We can’t earn it, and we can’t demand it.
In Mary’s great prayer The Magnificat, she says, ‘The Lord will pull down the mighty from thrones and raise up the poor and lowly.’ The values of the Jesus and Kingdom of God are not the values of the world; they are the very opposite! ‘There are those now last who will be first, and those now first who will be last.’
-Br Michael Moore OMI
Gospel: Luke 13:22-30 ©
People from every nation can enter in by the “narrow door”
Jesus went through one town and village after another, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?” He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able.
When once 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,’ then in reply he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to 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, all you evildoers!’
There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrown out. Then people will come from east and west, from north and south, and will eat in the kingdom of God. Indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”
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