Scripture Reflection . . .
Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
First Reading: Isaiah 66: 18 -21
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 117
Second Reading: Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13
Gospel: Luke 13:22-30
A movie entitled The Way (2010) details the journey of a father who takes up the pilgrimage of St. James, also known as El Camino de Santiago, in memory of his son who died attempting the journey. The experience of the grieving father includes unwanted travel companions, discomfort and exhaustion, a range of emotions including anger and humiliation, and eventual transformation. The journey was not easy.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.” Apparently this journey to the promise of eternal union with God is not easy.
We hear Jesus assure us in the Gospel of John that, ” I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
We are called to look to Jesus to know our way. And Jesus shows us that this Way is about loving our enemies, forgiving those who have hurt us, and caring for the least among us.
No wonder this is so difficult a journey! And it is most likely because of ourselves. Our egos seems to prefer to protect ourselves, to be comfortable and safe. We don’t like discipline and the Letter to the Hebrews exhorts “Endure your trial as ‘discipline’ . . . At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those trained by it” (12:5-7, 11-13). We seek power, to be first, to be the best. Yet,here Jesus tells us that the last will be first and the first will be last (Luke 12: 22-30).
The narrow way involves self-giving, humility, surrender. But with the promise of peace, joy – transformation, here on earth and for all eternity.
When all this seems overwhelming and the striving seems to be getting no where, we need to lean into God. Because we cannot do this on our own. We first need to surrender to Love. Deep belief that we are loved first is the grace we need to take one step at a time on the Way. “For steadfast is all his kindness toward us, and the fidelity of the Lord endures forever” (Psalm 117:2).
In Our Lives of Sisters of The Holy Redeemer . . .
The second week of Vacation Bible School involved a number of us this past week. We accompanied children as they celebrated following Jesus, who is the light. They learned that the simplest of actions, such as a smile, can make a difference in the world. As we encouraged them, their little lives reminded us that we are called to be as children if we want to follow Jesus; if we desire to enter the kingdom.
The final school garden visit of the summer took place on Tuesday evening and it was a gift to watch the joy children experience as they discover the fruit of their labor – in other words, pulling out carrots, picking tomatoes and peppers, finding zucchini . . . Creation reminds us that we and each created thing gives praise to God when we/it becomes what it is created to be.
And today we welcomed 3 young people as they begin a year of service as Redeemer Ministry Corps volunteers. They inspire us in their courage to follow a path less chosen – giving a year of their precious lives to grow in faith, community and service.
One Sister began her annual retreat – taking the path of contemplation and solitude in the midst of a busy frantic world.
Another Sister found herself in the hospital for a couple of days as a patient rather than a care-giver. While she recalls this as being a humbling experience she is grateful for the love and compassion of so many people during this time.
In Your Life . . .
We may have the tendency to be moved to fear by a Gospel reading such as today’s; “I’m going to go to hell if I don’t live better!”
Well, certainly Jesus’ words get our attention, which may have been the point, however, the invitation may be to soak yourself in the love God has for you; This God who loves the least in you and desires the best for you.
For it is only believing that we are loved completely and unconditionally that we can let down the barriers, release our hold on power, security and comfort; reach out in compassion to the least without fear; and follow the way that enters the narrow gate.