Sunday Readings

"The narrow gate and the closed door". XXI Sunday in Ordinary Time (c)

Andrea Mardegan comments on the readings for the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time and Luis Herrera offers a short video homily. 

Andrea Mardegan-August 19, 2022-Reading time: 2 minutes

Photo: "The Prophet Isaiah", Giovanni di Piemonte. @web gallery of art

At the end of the book of Isaiah there is a strong message of universalism of salvation. God gathers "the nations of every language; they will come to see my glory". After the return from exile, the people are overwhelmed by many difficulties and the prophet supports them with visions of a future full of hope: God's salvation will come, through Israel, to many other peoples. "I will give them a sign, and from among them I will send survivors to the nations: to Tarshish, Libya and Lydia (bow-shooters), Túbal and Greece, to the distant coasts that never heard my fame nor saw my glory. They shall proclaim my glory to the nations." Perhaps Tarshish means Spain, and Tubal means Cilicia. But they mean all the peoples who will go to Jerusalem, together with the children of Israel.

Jesus himself goes to Jerusalem. A man asked him a common question in the debates among the rabbis: how many will be saved? Some thought: all the Jews; others said: only some. Jesus does not enter into the numerical question, but raises the tone to the quality of the commitment. He does so with two images of the gate: the narrow gate and the gate that the master has closed, in a parable that has as its background the invitation to a banquet: "The Lord of the universe will prepare for all peoples on this mountain a feast of succulent delicacies" (Is 25:6). The Greek verb used by Jesus is sporting: "to compete" to enter through the narrow gate. The fortified cities had a wide gate through which they could enter "on horses, in chariots, on saddles, on mules, on dromedaries", and a narrow gate through which only one person at a time could enter, which was used when the wide gate was already closed. To enter through the narrow gate one had to be free of bulky luggage. It could mean that salvation comes to each one personally.

Once in the city and arriving at the house of the owner who invited to the banquet, the door of his house might already be closed. Then those who have stayed outside will try to get it opened, but the master of the house will say that he does not know them. They point to a familiarity that did not exist: I do not know you, he tells them, so I do not open my house, my privacy, my feast, to strangers. Jesus refers to his contemporaries who honor God with their lips, but their heart is far from him. They will come from all over the world to sit at the table of the kingdom of God, along with the patriarchs and prophets of Israel, but they will be left out. These words guide us so that we do not take it for granted that we please God by being in the number of those who are Christians: thoughts, words and deeds must be in accordance with the heart of Christ.

The homily on the readings of Sunday 21st Sunday

The priest Luis Herrera Campo offers its nanomiliaa small one-minute reflection for these readings.

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