23 Aug 21ST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Dear OLPH Family and Friends,
To begin this little message, my family and I want to thank you so much for your tremendous support and love conveyed during my brother Jim’s final days and his ultimate entry into Eternal Life. Your sympathy and Mass cards are so greatly appreciated. Your presence at his funeral was beyond our wildest hopes and expectations. A special word of thanks goes out to our various Martha Ministry teams. The folks from St. Martin’s were especially impressed.
Last week I shared with some of you false facts. I promise you, I was not lying. I was mistaken in saying that I was the longest serving pastor in this parish. I am indeed the 6th pastor and most happy to have been here these 18 years. However, Msgr. Flynn was the longest serving pastor. I think I must have left an entire decade out of the equation. He blessed this parish with 24 years as the pastor. May he rest in peace!
On this 21st Sunday in Ordinary time there seems to be a contradiction between Isaiah and the Gospel. Isaiah speaks of the universality of God’s call and in Luke; Jesus seems to be putting brakes on who might actually be allowed in the Kingdom. In the final chapter of Isaiah’s prophecy the God of creation will gather all nations- not just Israel, but even nations that have never heard of Israel’s God.
Isaiah and Jesus seem to have a very distinct difference of opinion. Isaiah says the way to salvation is wide and user –friendly. Jesus insists the gate of admission is narrow and ”many” who expect to get in will find the door closed in their faces. Both are making the same claim to different audiences. In the 6th Century BC, Isaiah’s community had just returned from Babylonian exile and was down on non-Israelites. The prophet says they may not exclude those whom God has welcomed. Meanwhile, the crowd around Jesus was plenty sure they were God’s favorites and everyone else was out. Jesus points out that the gate will close on the self-righteous, even as it opens for folks in all four directions. Isaiah and Jesus are, despite their Testaments, on the same page. Jesus is simply saying there needs to be discipline.
Teachers will readily admit that without some sort of discipline, there is chaos. Parents know the importance of some sort of discipline e.g. times for bed on school nights, proper diet and limitations on the use of electrical goods, etc. Our spiritual life must have discipline or else we are tempted to totally neglect God and those things that will help us to enter His Kingdom.
Are we ready and willing to accept whatever discipline will allow us into The Kingdom? Jesus wants us to be in that Kingdom with Him. He offers us the means to be ready when the call comes.
May God keep us all faithful in following His lead! Peace and Blessings!