Sunday, August 21, 2016

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year C - 2016

I once heard a story about a very kind elderly woman who had one daughter.
She loved her daughter and always looked forward to seeing and being with her.

The daughter however was often busy and unable to come and visit.
Sometimes she could not even spare the time to talk  with her Mom on the phone.

There was always some pressing issue that needed attention or she just had so much on her plate.

When she did come to visit she often arrived late, stayed a short time and left early.

The mother never got angry, she never held a grudge,  she always forgave her daughter even though she longed for more time and attention from her.

As the mom got older and more dependent on her daughter the visits became even less and less.

Finally, the Mom died but sadly the daughter arrived late as usual and was unable to say goodbye.

The next day after her mother had died the daughter went to the funeral home to make the arrangements but to her surprise they had already been made by her Mom.

When the daughter tried to change some of the details but she was told that her mom had left that responsibility to someone else.

Leaving the Funeral Home the daughter drove to her Mom’s home.

To her surprise her key no longer worked in the door and she could not get into the house.

A neighbor saw the daughter trying to get and and came over.

Your Mom had us change the locks as soon as she passed away and she left me in charge of the house and the property.

The daughter was shocked and dismayed yet there was nothing she could do there was no way to make amends to her mom.

Obviously the elderly Mother in the story represents God and the busy self absorbed daughter is humanity.

The moral of the story and the first lesson that the Gospel teaches today us is simply this.

During our time on earth God will give us chance after chance after chance

He will forgive us over and over again.

Jesus is reminding us in this Gospel that once we die our choice is made and there are no more second chances.

God will judge us fairly and justly by the lives we have lived and the love we shared.

The second lesson is just as important as the first.

Jesus describes the path to salvation as a narrow door.
It’s a narrow door. He says “Some will try to enter but be not be strong enough”

The message is clear.

Being saved and living with God forever will require some effort some sacrifice on our part.

It will probably require letting go of some things we value.

Picture someone trying to carry all of the things they hold dear through a narrow gate or doorway. Possessions, Opinions, Desires, Prejudices, anger, resentments etc.

If we load ourselves down with lots of things during our life and we refuse to let go of them how will we ever fit through the narrow door to heaven that Jesus is talking about ?

How will we ever get through it ?

Salvation seems to demand that we put things down and let things go.

Over and over in the Gospel Jesus warns us to travel light as we journey through life and yet the world tells us take this and that you need this and you need that you have a right to this and don’t let anyone take that from you.

The world would have us take to ourselves as much as we possibly can and make it difficult for us to get to through the door.

Finally the third lesson about salvation is simply this.

The religious leaders of Jesus’ time believed that  their salvation was assured simply because they were Jews .

They took God’s love
and God’s mercy
and God’s forgiveness for granted

You see it’s not enough to want to be good.
It’s not enough to have been good once upon a time.

Our salvation depends on loving God and loving our neighbor.
Jesus is warning us not to simply presume God’s love or forgiveness.

Remember what we just heard in the Gospel

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!’

Today’s Gospel is not easy to hear but the message is clear Jesus was warning the religious leaders of his time and he is warning us

that even though Salvation is a free gift that God longs to give each of us,
we must live good holy lives which demonstrate that we are willing to accept God’s love and salvation.

Yes God loves us.
Yes God longs to be with us in heaven forever.
Yes God is good and merciful.
Yes to all these things.

But God is also just.
God is and must be as just as he is loving,
as just as he is merciful,
as just as he is forgiving.

And so good people it is  important for all of us to remember that what we do and how we live our lives matters.

One day when our time comes our merciful and loving and just God will do the loving thing and judge us justly by how we have lived and how we have loved.

Our consolation should be that only God knows our hearts
He knows us better than we know ourselves.

God understands all the challenges we faced and the love we have shared.
God loves us and longs to be with each of us forever.

God’s Judgement is final
Our salvation will demand some effort on our part
We should never simply presume God’s love

So Let us be attentive to God’s word today.