Sunday, August 25, 2013

Today's Gospel

First, the text:

Jesus passed through towns and villages, teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem.

Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” 

He answered them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, ‘Lord, open the door for us.’ He will say to you in reply, ‘I do not know where you are from. 

And you will say, ‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’ 

Then he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!’ 

And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves cast out. And people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the kingdom of God. For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

Luke 13:22-30

A couple of things come to mind:

1. This gives me another opportunity to plug Dr. Ralph Martin's book Will Many Be Saved? which should be required reading for every Catholic layperson, priest, and bishop in the entire world.

2. Going along with #1, for those who think salvation is something that comes easy or even by difficulty through some sort of Pelagian personal effort, Jesus's response should be a bucket of cold water. Just a casual review of some of the greatest saints in history (including recent history) should make us all consider salvation with the utmost gravity.

3. Anyone who attempts to denigrate the natural law or the precepts of the Church as being "against Christ's message of love and inclusiveness" should read this (along with Matthew 7, 12, and 23) and then reflect on what kind of love prompts this sort of language from the Word Made Flesh.

4. Exegesis of this passage and others like it (Good Samaritan, vineyard workers, Prodigal Son, etc.) has suffered over the last few decades. Consider why Christ describes the Last Judgment the way he does. He specifically mentions Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the prophets, and the fact that some in his audience will see them in despair for they themselves will be among those excluded.

He does this while mentioning people coming from all the corners of the world as entering what we know to be the great Wedding Feast of the Lamb.


The missing component is that this is about the Jews and Gentiles. The Kingdom will be taken away from the Jews and handed over to the Gentiles, who are to be grafted into God's covenant by Christ. Jesus is warning the Jews that the Patriarchs and Prophets will be going where they will not go. The last to be received into God's covenant (the Gentiles) will be first, while the first who were invited (the Jews) will be last.

Given the traditional eschatological view of many of the Fathers and Doctors that the End Times will be heralded by a mass conversion of Jews, this makes even more sense.

For those who hold to the weird novelty that Jews do not require conversion, this is a Gospel worth hearing.

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