Theme: JESUS CHRIST THE ONLY SAVIOR OF THE WORLD!
- Isaiah 66:18-21;
- Psalm 116 (117). R/ Mk 16:15;
- Hebrews 12:5-7. 11-13
- Luke 13:22-30
Today is the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The readings today tell us about salvation! The gospel today tells us that in order to be saved we must enter by the narrow door, that is, we must make great efforts. The gospel also tells us that the narrow door does not remain open indefinitely, that is, we have to enter it immediately, here and now! (CSB)
More importantly, the gospel today tells us that the Jews rejected the salvation of Jesus! But most importantly, the gospel tells us that the pagans accepted the salvation of Jesus! That is why they will come from the East and West, and from the North and South to enter into the kingdom of God!
The gospel ends by telling us that:
“Yes, there are those now last who will be first, and those now first who will be last.” (Lk 13:30; SM)
That is, the pagans who were called last will be the first to enter the kingdom of God, and the Jews who were called first will be the last to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, St. Paul tells us in Chapter 11 of the letter to the Romans that in the end even the Jews who crucified Jesus will believe and accept Jesus and will also be saved!
Indeed, whether first or last, Jew or pagan, all have to be saved in Jesus Christ, because Jesus Christ is the only Savior of the world! Thus the Gospel Acclamation of today:
“I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, says the Lord: no one can come to the Father except through me.” (Jn 14:6; SM)
That is, Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father, because he is the only truth that reveals the Father’s love and it is only the Father’s love that can give us eternal life!
That is why the first reading tells us that all the nations of the world will be converted! And more than that, the first reading also tells us that the converted nations will in their turn become missionaries and evangelizers of salvation! And even more than that, the first reading tells us that the converted pagans will even become priests!
The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:
“Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News.” (Mk 16:15; SM)
The responsorial psalm is the shortest of all the 150 psalms of the Psalter. It has only two verses. The first verse, that is, the first stanza, tells us to praise and worship God! The second verse, that is, the second stanza, tells us why we praise and worship God, that is, we praise and worship God because he is love and faithfulness! The two attributes of God revealed to Moses (Ex 34:6) and revealed perfectly by Jesus Christ (Jn 1:14; NJB)!
God loves us even when we do not love him and God is faithful to us even when we are not faithful to him! We see, hear, touch, smell and taste these two attributes of God perfectly in the cross of Jesus Christ!
The response of the responsorial psalm tells us to “go out to the whole world” and “proclaim the Good News” of God’s love and faithfulness in the cross of Jesus Christ for the salvation of the whole world!
The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but the second reading has something very important to tell us! The second reading has something important to tell us because it answers the question we always ask, that is, if God is love then why all the sufferings in the world!
An Australian theologian answered this question well! He said that suffering is the love of God experienced by the sinner for his conversion, so that he will turn away from sin and death and turn to God and receive love, life and happiness! Or in the words of today’s second reading:
“Suffering is part of your training; God is treating you as his sons. Has there ever been any son whose father did not train him? Of course, any punishment is most painful at the time, and far from pleasant; but later, in those on whom it has been used, it bears fruit in peace and goodness.” (Heb 12:7. 11; SM)
Today we give thanks to God for the free gift of salvation and we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit so that we will proclaim the Good News of his salvation to the whole world and so that the whole world may believe and be saved, including the Jews who crucified Jesus! Then will come the end of the world, that is, the end of the evil world and the final fulfillment of the kingdom of God here on earth!
A blessed Sunday to all of you! Amen!
Parish Priest of St Mary, Tawau, Sabah East Malaysia.