Opening the Word: An urgent Gospel

By:

Summer is a time for respite, for a leisurely peace where we get a chance to breathe. We go to pools, head out on vacation and enjoy the last quiet moments with our families before business resumes as normal.

There is a temptation to let this leisurely calm infiltrate the Church. It’s summer, after all. Is it necessary to go to Mass every week? It’s sunny outside. Do we have to continue praying as much as we do during the year? Can’t we all take a break from the work of evangelization, from the gospelization of all existence?

Our Lord Jesus Christ has an answer to this question. As we enjoy our last days of the summer holiday, we hear the voice of Jesus Christ underline for us the precarious nature of salvation.

Some unknown person asks Jesus whether only a few people will be saved. Of course, we expect an answer to this question that comforts us. We expect the Lord of mercy, the God of love unto the end, to console the interlocutor. Of course, there is ample space in the kingdom of heaven for all! Don’t worry that much. Just be decent.

Jesus does not give the answer we seek. Not only is the gate to salvation narrow, but Jesus goes apocalyptic on the Church enjoying its summer holiday.

At the end of time, the master will be standing at a locked door. We’ll plead to enter, saying we didn’t know that the gate would be locked. We were visiting family on the Cape. We were at the Jersey Shore. We were enjoying a weekend in Napa Valley.

But the master won’t respond with a, “No big deal, come on in.” Instead, he won’t recognize us. We’ll plead anew: “Come on, we were here all along. We set up chairs at the parish picnic. We ran retreats in the parish. We were the first in line at the Lenten fish fry.”

Our Lord responds with a terrifying response: “‘I do not know where [you] are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!'” (Lk 13:27).

The supposed do-gooders, those who lived a “decent life,” will be excluded from the kingdom of heaven. God does not want decency from us. God doesn’t want a respectful, bourgeois religious life. God wants everything.

Jacques Maritain cautioned against this liberal bourgeois sense of Christianity that creeps into the Church. It’s the kind of Catholicism that is happy to host a parish festival or two.

That’s not the Good News that Jesus Christ has come to announce. If we want to enter the narrow gate, we’re obliged to announce to the entire world that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Jesus Christ is not the Lord who occasionally enters our homes and our vacation plans. He is the Lord who is everything to us.

He is the Lord who demands we proclaim to the ends of the world, even when it’s uncomfortable, that the meaning of life is not found in the exercise of power, prestige and importance. It is love.

Divine love unto the end.

So, welcome back from summer vacation, dear Church. Don’t wait for the announcement that parish religious education is about to start up again. Don’t wait for the beginning of school or for a new crop of RCIA candidates.

The time is now to travel the highways and byways to proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord. Not the hypothetical, abstract Lord we entertain between the months of September and April.

He is the Lord of all time, all space, even the Lord of summer.

He is the Lord of now.

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time – Aug. 25, 2019
IS 66:18-21
PS 117:1, 2
HEB 12:5-7, 11-13
LK 13:22-30

 

This article comes to you from OSV Newsweekly (Our Sunday Visitor) courtesy of your parish or diocese.

 

Catholic News & Perspective

Provides information on the Church, the nation and the world from OSV, America's most popular and trusted national Catholic news source


Recent

Opening the Word: Who do you serve?

Friday, September 20, 2019
By: Timothy P. O'Malley We like harmony. We like happy endings with crystal clear plots. This happens, then this, and finally that. Over the last... Read More

Could a proper implementation of synodality help save the Church?

Wednesday, September 18, 2019
By: Adam A.J. DeVille Recently, doctors have puzzled over cases of certain Catholics breaking out in hives whenever the words “synod”... Read More

Why is Catholicism vibrant in Africa but not in the U.S.?

Monday, September 16, 2019
By: Msgr. Owen F. Campion I feel safe in making this statement. Not many American Catholics will be utterly fascinated by Pope Francis’... Read More

Opening the Word: We’re called to seek with the urgency of God

Friday, September 13, 2019
By: Timothy P. O'Malley Imagine that you’re on a trip abroad. You arrive at the airport and reach into your bag for your passport, knowing... Read More

Who was Venerable Henriette Delille?

Wednesday, September 11, 2019
By: Brian Fraga The last line in Venerable Henriette Delille’s obituary from 1862 sums up her vocation. Henriette Delille, the obituary... Read More

Why I have hope for young priests

Monday, September 9, 2019
By: Msgr. Owen F. Campion A Catholic asked me if seminaries currently vet candidates for the priesthood so that clergy sex abuse will not be a... Read More

Opening the Word: The cost of dispossession

Friday, September 6, 2019
By: Timothy P. O'Malley In the canon of the New Testament, Philemon is strange. It is short, written directly to a prominent Christian whose name... Read More

Symposium calls for renewal of Catholic family life

Wednesday, September 4, 2019
By: Dr. Greg Popcak This past July, more than 40 internationally recognized social scientists, theologians and pastoral ministry professionals... Read More

When is silence not golden?

Monday, September 2, 2019
By: Teresa Tomeo We all can use more silence in our lives. We live in a culture bombarded by all kinds of noise and distractions. I should know. My... Read More

Opening the Word: Come to the misfit banquet

Friday, August 30, 2019
By: Timothy P. O'Malley If you’re going to a party, with the right people, then you want to make sure that you fit in. You want to be able to... Read More