Homily for the twenty-first Sunday of the Year - Year C - Lk. 13:22-30


by

Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen
 
 

" Jesus went on his way through towns and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. And some one said to him, «Lord, will those who are saved be few?»


" And he said to them, «Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the householder has risen up and shut the door, you will begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, 'Lord, open to us.' He will answer you, 'I do not know where you come from.' Then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.' But he will say, 'I tell you, I do not know where you come from; depart from me, all you workers of iniquity!' There you will weep and gnash your teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves thrust out. And men will come from east and west, and from north and south, and sit at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.» "




Homily:


" Jesus went on his way through towns and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. And some one said to him, «Lord, will those who are saved be few?» "


Jesus passes through a village; and after he had taught the people there, a man asks him: "Lord, will those who are saved be few?" Jesus had probably mentioned in his teaching the fact that those who had acted in a good manner during their life would be saved, while others, who had acted in a bad manner, would be condemned. After this man had thought a little about what Jesus had just said, he began to wonder if many would be damned and few would be saved, owing to the fact that, when one thinks about it, one realizes that few people act in a truly good manner during their life on earth, and, alas, many people do evil and offend God, without ever asking him to forgive them all their misdeeds...


If the man who had asked Jesus this question were alive today, almost identical thoughts could have gone through his mind. For one cannot say that the men and women who act in a good manner during their life are more numerous than those who act badly. At least, this is how it appears on the surface. For, perhaps, deep in their hearts, certain people truly believe that they are doing good, when they are in fact doing evil: they act in good faith and believe that such an act is good, when it is not... But, deep in their heart, what does their conscience say? I believe that if these people attentively listened to their conscience, they would realize, at least to some extent, that what they do is evil...


" And he said to them, «Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.» "


Jesus answers this man's question by saying that one must first be careful about what one does, with a view to being saved, before one asks oneself about the salvation or damnation of others! The man or woman God created in his image and likeness must listen to his or her own conscience and do what is good for the sake of his or her eternal salvation. For each person's conscience concerns only him and God. Even if we are responsible for others, we can never act upon their conscience in the way that each of them and God can. We must concern ourselves with the salvation of all men, but only if we entrust them to the care of divine Providence, and especially if we do not neglect ourselves...


But Jesus also answers very clearly that "many will seek to enter and will not be able." This means that the elect of God are few in number compared to the number of the damned. "Many are called, but few are chosen." (Mt. 22:14) What a mystery! For God is good, he is Goodness itself... So then, why would he let so many of his creatures fail so miserably on the way of salvation? Saint Paul gave us the answer: it is a "Mystery of iniquity" (2 Thess. 2:7). He who is responsible for this loss is not God: it is man, who has followed the devil! This is indeed a Mystery: for it is God who created man in his image and likeness, thus realizing, to some extent, a Mystery similar to that first Mystery which is himself. But, indeed, it is also a Mystery of iniquity: for the devil and man have disfigured this image, rendering it unrecognizable due to sin...


" «When once the householder has risen up and shut the door, you will begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, 'Lord, open to us.' He will answer you, 'I do not know where you come from.' Then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.' But he will say, 'I tell you, I do not know where you come from; depart from me, all you workers of iniquity!' There you will weep and gnash your teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves thrust out. And men will come from east and west, and from north and south, and sit at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.» "


The next part of the discourse of Jesus deals, first of all, with the rejection of the Jewish People, which, for the most part, did not convert to Christianity. This rejection made it possible for the pagan Nations to enter the Church and thus to take for themselves the place that had been left vacant by those who were the first to be called: "And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last." But what is most important in Jesus' discourse is the firmness and irrevocability of the following saying of the Lord: "When once the householder has risen up and shut the door, you will begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, 'Lord, open to us.' He will answer you, 'I do not know where you come from.' " For the gate is definitively closed...


Let us retain the following truths, which will aid us on the road of salvation:

- baptism is a very great sacrament, but in order to be saved, baptism is not sufficient;

- he who prays will certainly be saved, for, through this prayer, God will give him his grace;

- as the life is, so is the death: he who lives well dies well, in the love of God.


Let us all pray together to the Most Blessed Virgin Mary: she is the Mother of us all! Let us turn our eyes to that incomparable creature whom God placed in our path to guide us, in the Lord, on the way to Heaven! Let us hold her hand in order that she might lead us to Paradise! For She is truly almighty in the Almighty!



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