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cappie

TWENTY-FIRST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

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cappie

Today's Gospel reading is the third of three parables in chapter 13 that deal with the theme of the unexpected reversals brought by the Kingdom of God.  As this parable opens, Luke reminds us that Jesus is making his way to Jerusalem. He is teaching as he goes. A question from the crowd  about will only a few be saved  expresses the Jewish concern about whether everyone who calls himself a Jew is actually faithful to the covenant. This was a concern of the Pharisees. Their exclusive view had no place for the Gentiles, and their emphasis upon a strict observance of the prescriptions of the Law that was almost impossible for the common people, led them to conclude that the number of the saved would be rather small. Jesus answers that they must strive in the time remaining to enter through the narrow door because many will be trying to get in but won't be strong enough.  The ‘narrow door’ of his parable does not imply that salvation is available to only a few; it refers to the conversion called for if his hearers are to accept his teaching, and thus become the people God wants them to be. 

 Once all those entering the master's house are in and he locks the door, there will be no way for others to get in. Those left outside may knock, but the master will say he doesn't know them. The point of the parable of the ‘locked door’ is not exclusion, but the need to hurry in – the opportunity brought by Jesus is coming to an end. Only conversion from the constricted ways the nation has come to take for granted will give entrance to ‘the master’s house’ - knowing Jesus, even sitting at table with him, without heeding his call to become the people God intended them to be will leave them out in the cold. As Jesus also tells us in the Gospel of Matthew, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)

People from the north, south, east, and west will take our place inside. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets will take our place in the Kingdom of God. Those who do not make it through the narrow door will be cast outside.

The image of the door is replaced in the final verses of the parable with the image of the heavenly feast. Two passages from the Book of Isaiah influence the conclusion. Isaiah 43:5-6 speaks of God bringing Israel's descendants back from the east and from the west, the north and the south. And Isaiah 25:6 speaks of the Lord providing a feast of rich foods and choice wines for all peoples on his holy mountain.

The answer to the question if only a few will be saved is no. In the end, many will be saved, but many who thought they would be saved will not be saved. The parable is a warning to repentance in order to enter the kingdom. 

A people who have not been faithful heirs to what they have received from ‘Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets will find themselves ‘outside’. But God’s purposes will not be frustrated; the peoples of the world will ‘take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God’. 

Jesus was calling Israel back to a sharing in the generous ways of God that was their true faith tradition. But, as he makes his way to Jerusalem, time is running out. 

Do you know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Saviour? That question is often asked by evangelical preachers during their sermons. Those preachers challenge their listeners to consider if they truly know Jesus Christ in a personal way, or if their connection with Jesus is just a matter of being baptized and accepting certain facts about him. It is our actions rather than who we know that will save us.

So, the more critical question is this: Does Jesus Christ know me as one of his disciples?
 

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