Bulletin: August 21, 2022
Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
The term “fair-weather friend” might need a technological-era updating. Perhaps “short attention span friend” would work. In our world of multiple communication platforms, it somehow has become increasingly easy to lose track of friends. We shouldn’t be surprised when we reach out and they’ve moved on due to our indifference. The God who is love and whose covenant is one-hundred percent about relationship is depicted in the same way by Jesus today. Hey God, remember us? There was that one time we were really in trouble and you helped out; well, we’re in trouble again. But we may find that God has moved on since we turned out to be only foul-weather friends. The covenant relationship has two parties: God and us. If that covenant relationship falls apart, and we’re no longer “friended” by God, it’s not because God failed as a friend. Keeping up the friendship and relationship with God is equally our responsibility.
FROM EAST TO WEST
With our modern understanding of the world and its various cultures and religions, it’s hard to grasp how shocking Isaiah’s words today would have been to those who first encountered them. After all, they were the people God called “Chosen.” It was easy for them to presume that after the sufferings of exile that God’s freeing redemption would be for them and them alone. Yet here is Isaiah saying that the saving hand of God will extend to all nations, even those of varying ways and languages. Perhaps most shocking to Isaiah’s initial audience would have been today’s final line: that God would take these outsiders and fugitives, elevating them to the priesthood, to include them in the descendants of one of Jacob’s sons, Levi. It’s not difficult to imagine that this sweeping vision of God’s mercy and love beyond the bounds of the Chosen People was met with resistance, much as similar messages are met with resistance today.
FROM NORTH AND SOUTH
Jesus shows himself to be firmly in Israel’s prophetic tradition, a true son of Isaiah today, as he proclaims a similar message. Those who had been chosen as disciples could not presume that merely keeping physical proximity with Jesus or remaining in his company gave them any real claim to call themselves true disciples. As important as table fellowship is in Luke’s Gospel, even eating and drinking with Jesus does not guarantee an eventual seat at the table of God’s reign. Even being a “pureblood” (a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) doesn’t make your final destination a sure thing. How the world has placed you into its categories—first or last—just might get scrambled too. It is those who follow Jesus through the “narrow gate” of discipleship, truly abiding by his example who are sure to find themselves reclining at table in the kingdom.
Today’s Readings: Isaiah 66:18–21; Ps 117:1, 2; Heb 12:5–7, 11–13; Lk 13:22–30
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