Gospel Reflection Aug 21 – Deacon Frank

Sunday, August 21

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.”

Gospel Reflection:

In this week’s Gospel, Jesus is asked a question we would all like to know the answer to. “Will only a few people be saved?” From the Gospel, it sounds as if there are going to be lots of people in heaven, people coming from north and south, east and west. However, we would have liked a few more details, numbers, percentages perhaps, but I guess Jesus figures we can answer the question for ourselves by seeing how people live according to his teachings. If we live by his teachings, we are on our way to eternal happiness; if not, we will lose out. After all, Jesus does tell us he is “…the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE.”

When I was a young boy growing up in the 1950’s and 1960’s, I think most people believed that it would be very hard to be saved. Fast forward to the 21st century, I would guess that many in today’s society seem to think salvation is practically a given, that the only people not in heaven are those who had to work hard at avoiding getting there. Surveys today show almost 75% of Catholics say they can be good Catholics without attending Mass every Sunday. Half believe they can be a good Catholic without donating time or money to help the poor. It’s like saying we can love God while choosing to ignore the important ways in which God asks us to serve him.

The image of the “narrow gate or the locked door” that Jesus used in the Gospel was a warning to the Jews not to take their position as “chosen people” for granted. It’s a similar warning for all of us and the “narrow gate or the locked door” reminds all of us that time will run out for us on earth. Life here is just so long and none of us know how long it will last.

In the Gospel this weekend Jesus doesn’t tell us this to depress us, to discourage us, or to scare us. He tells us this because he loves us. He wants us to be happy with God and all our loved ones forever. All we need to do is look at the crucifix to know about his love. May we celebrate that love this weekend as we celebrate the Eucharist, and it is that which gives us hope and joy.

-Deacon Frank Iannarino