Twenty First Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C.

Lk 13: 22 – 30

Father, we thank you for the gift of your Holy Word.  May it be a lamp to our feet, a light to our paths, joy to our hearts and strength to our lives.
Spend a few minutes reading and re-reading to-day’s Gospel. You may find it useful to mark anything that you find strange or needs explanation.

“making his way to Jerusalem.”

This Journey starts in 9: 15 and ends with Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem 19: 36.

As Jesus continues to move from Galilee to Jerusalem this is more like a ‘journey of teachings’ rather than a physical journey. Our text today is just one small part of this body of teaching. It is really a collection of Jesus’ sayings. There is a common theme of “waiting” running through them all. We need to take each saying separately as we reflect on its meaning and importance for us.

23Someone said to him, “Sir, will there be only a few saved?” He said to them, 24”Try your best to enter by the narrow door, because, I tell you, many will try to enter and will not succeed.”

What is this narrow gate? Luke has answered this question twice. “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (6: 31), and “You shall love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself. (10: 27)  John puts it more strongly, “Love one another as I have loved you.” (Jn 15: 12)

“Will there be only a few saved?” 
This too has already been answered. At the beginning of Chapter 10, Jesus sends out his seventy disciples. The number seventy is certainly symbolic. According to Gen 10 seventy is the number of nations on earth. Also on the Feast of Tabernacles seventy bulls were sacrificed in the Temple for the conversion of each pagan nation. The message is clear, ‘God wants the salvation of all his people – nobody can be lost.’ We find the same message in Psalm 116: 15, “To costly in the eyes of the Lord is the death of his faithful.”

Parable of the master
25Once the master of the house has got up and locked the door, you may find yourself knocking on the door, saying, “Lord, open to us” but he will answer, “I do not know where you come from.” 26Then you will find yourself saying, “We once ate and drank in our company; you taught in our streets,” 27but he will reply, “I do not know where you come from.  Away from me, all you wicked men!”

Surely the message is clear. We are being strongly advised,  “Get to know Jesus.” Once again we go back to an earlier text in the Gospel to clarify our understanding. “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.” (8: 21)

Who will be saved? Jesus leaves us in no doubt. “Men from the east and the west, from north and south, will come to take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God.” There is place for the whole world, for everybody in the “Kingdom of God”.

Our reading closes with a very strange and confusing saying, “30Yes, there are those now last who will be first, and those now first who will be last.” We need to look elsewhere in the gospels to come to an understanding of his saying, this riddle.  In Mt 20: 1 – 16, Matthew tells the parable of the workers who were hired to work in a vineyard. Some worked all day, others half the day and others for only an hour. All received the same reward. I wonder why. The parable closes with, “Yes, there are those now last who will be first, and those now first who will be last”, with nobody left out. In the African Bible this parable is titled “The Kingdom is a gift.”

The Kingdom of God is pure gift to us. Makes you think!!!

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