The most difficult times can produce the greatest spiritual blessings. God truly knows just what we need at every moment!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

21st Sunday of Ordinary Time 2007 - Cycle C

Introduction: Who will be saved? For most of us, that means who will be in heaven? Will you or I be in heaven? These are the kinds of questions that Jesus generally dislikes. Instead, Jesus invites us to follow Him. If we trust Him and try to follow Him, then we don’t get concerned about who will be saved. Our concern is simply trying to follow the Lord.

Penitential Rite: In the Gospel for today, Jesus encourages us to strive to enter the narrow gate to salvation. Let us open ourselves to receive the graces He is offering to help us in our fight against weaknesses and failures …

• Lord Jesus, trough your passion and death, you open for us the door to salvation - Lord, have mercy,
• Christ Jesus, at the Eucharist you invite all to your heavenly banquet – Christ, have mercy,
• Lord Jesus in the Sacrament of Penance, you forgive us our sins – Lord have mercy,

May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and brig us to everlasting life. Amen.

FIRST READING - Isaiah 66:18-21
Thus says the LORD: I know their works and their thoughts, and I come to gather nations of every language; they shall come and see my glory. I will set a sign among them; from them I will send fugitives to the nations: to Tarshish, Put and Lud, Mosoch, Tubal and Javan, to the distant coastlands that have never heard of my fame, or seen my glory; and they shall proclaim my glory among the nations. They shall bring all your brothers and sisters from all the nations as an offering to the LORD, on horses and in chariots, in carts, upon mules and dromedaries, to Jerusalem, my holy mountain, says the LORD, just as the Israelites bring their offering to the house of the LORD in clean vessels. Some of these I will take as priests and Levites, says the LORD.

SECOND READING - Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13
Brothers and sisters, you have forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as children: "My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord or lose heart when reproved by him; for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines; he scourges every son he acknowledges." Endure your trials as "discipline"; God treats you as sons. For what "son" is there whom his father does not discipline? At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it. So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees. Make straight paths for your feet, that what is lame may not be disjointed but healed.

GOSPEL Cycle C - 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."


For the question asked by some of His disciples: “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” Jesus answered , “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.” In the gospel of St. Matthew Jesus adds: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it.” (Mt 7,13-14)

It seems that this is the reality of our contemporary world. “Keep smiling, take it easy …. Jesus will certainly save you because He loves you.” – It seems to be the most popular philosophy of many of our brothers and sisters, Christians and even Catholics. We are very often convinced that to enter heaven it’s enough for us to go to Sunday Mass on a regular basis and to give our Sunday collection, or eventually to give up some minor weaknesses or faults."

Someone once asked me if he could keep chewing tobacco and go to heaven. I thought for a second and I said, "Yes, but you will have to go to hell to spit."

This humorous story illustrates an important point: Certain things are incompatible with heaven. Chewing tobacco, of course, is somewhat a silly example. But there are more serious things we have to give up if we are going to enter heaven.

The seven capital sins pretty well sum up what we have to renounce:
- lust,
- anger,
- gluttony,
- laziness,
- envy,
- greed
- and above all, pride or arrogance. Those sins have no place in heaven.

And this is the small gate and a narrow road we have to find and try to enter through.

But don’t be too sure and certain of your salvation, because as Saint Augustine said: “God prepares for each of us three great surprises for the future life:
- the first will be that we will be surprised seeing there people who, according to our judgment, shouldn’t be there – namely, in heaven,
- the second one is that we will be startled to not see there the people who, according to our convictions, should be there – namely, in hell :-) (the first will be the last and the last will be the first)
- but the biggest will be our surprise that we are there … for example in ….. (??????????????)

Intercessions: Father, we pray for your holy Catholic Church that, in a spirit of true reconciliation, we all may be one. Grant that every member of your Church may truly and humbly serve you, and may glorify your name and that of your Son Jesus.

Father, we thank you for making us members of your family. As you hear our prayers, May we extend your goodness to all our brothers and sisters. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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