Gospel Reflection Aug 25 – Fr. Morris
Sunday, August 25
Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Luke 13: 22 – 30
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.”
Modern English has shed all the “thee & thou, thy and thine” of earlier stages of English. Now, “you” is left to do the work of its 2nd-person predecessors, rendering its meaning sometimes vague. It is often hard to tell when “you” is meant to be singular or plural…which is why so many locally-invented plural 2nd-person pronouns can be found around the country, like “yinz,” “y’all”, “youse”, and “you’ens.”
This Sunday’s Gospel has a transition from the 3rd-person to the 2nd-person, when Jesus switches mid-reply to the parable of “the master of the house.” The English translation renders the explicitly plural of the Greek as “you,” although later we learn all those usages of “you” is meant to be understood as plural: “ALL you evildoers.”
But to an American ear, the ambiguity of “you” means this Gospel can easily sound like it is addressed to a singular “you.” That Jesus is speaking to ME, individually. ‘I do not know YOU! Depart!’ Eek!
This same 2nd-person pronoun wordplay is also at play in the 2nd book of Samuel. Briefly, in chapter 12 we find the prophet Nathan in audience with the great King David, informing the king about all the selfishness and wickedness of a certain man. Enraged by what he hears this man has done, King David declares that this unnamed man deserves to be punished for his sins. And that is when Nathan tells the king: “You are that man — That man is YOU!” And then David’s eyes are opened, he recalls all his sins, and he recognizes his need to repent, convert, and once again follow the Lord.
Although in the literal sense the singular “you” in Nathan’s declaration is directed to King David, in 2001 a lay Catholic businessman named Mr. Steve Bollman heard it in a spiritual sense as applying to himself and all men—“YOU/ Y’ALL are That Man!” That experience led him to found a Catholic men’s ministry that took it as its title: “That Man is You!” (TMIY)
We are beginning this popular men’s program at St. Brigid on Saturday, September 7th, and we invite all men in the parish—whether they are Catholic or just married to one!—to join the rest of their brothers in the parish for this new experience of spiritual fraternity and real-life Christian discipleship.
Further details can be found in the print bulletin, after Sunday Mass at the TMIY booth, or by visiting our TMIY webpage here.