21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
People will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south. (Luke 13:29)
Going to a Catholic church in another country can be a real eye-opener. The language or accent might be different. The liturgy might have a different flair. And the people in the pews might not look like your fellow parishioners. That’s part of the beauty of the Church!
In today’s Gospel, when someone asks Jesus whether only a few will be saved, Jesus is quick to broaden his perspective. The heavenly banquet table is very large, he says! Yes, the gate is narrow, and it takes effort to enter. But that doesn’t mean heaven will be empty. History tells us that many, many people have been more than willing to enter through that narrow gate. The result? All the great saints and heroes of the faith will be reclining at table with a multitude of people: men, women, and children from every race and nation, from every cultural and economic background. The Lord is not stingy when it comes to drawing people to himself. In fact, the more the merrier!
The key is entry through the narrow gate. That’s the action of faith that unites us. Whether you’re from the north, south, east, or west, a prince or a peasant, it doesn’t matter. If you’ve entered through that narrow door—if you’ve turned to the Lord in faith and Baptism—you belong in God’s kingdom. You have a place reserved for you at the banquet table of the Lord.
Now, just as you are a part of the people of God, so are the people in your community, everyone who serves side-by-side with you at your parish. But so are people who speak a different language or whose culture or economic status is very unlike your own. So are people in prison cells and in homeless shelters. So is the annoying neighbor down the street whose faith is known to God alone. In God’s eyes, everyone is equally deserving of his love. Because God wants everyone in his kingdom. So let’s make space next to ourselves at the Lord’s banquet table.
“Lord, help me to welcome anyone who comes to you in faith.”
Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13
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