Sunday Scriptures Reflection for August 25, 2013 -- 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

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Scripture: Lectionary 124 August 25,21st Sunday Ordinary Time.  Isaiah 66:18-21. Psalm 117:1.2.  Hebrews 12:5-7,11-13.  Luke 13:22-30:

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Psalm 117 is the shortest Psalm in the Bible yet it gives us the great vision of all nations coming to praise God and join in the celebration in Jerusalem. It ties together the Gospel reading and the first reading from Isaiah which present the theme of universality.  Salvation is meant for all peoples, all nations, and all men and women of every period in the human history.  The key to understanding today’s celebration is this universal call and invitation to all: “Praise the Lord, all you nations; glorify him, all you peoples.”

The Gospel antiphon fits the theme of universality for it proclaims before the reading of the Gospel:  “Alleluia! Alleluia! Go out to all the world and tell the Good News. Alleluia! Alleluia.!”

Pope Francis is constantly telling us, “to get out and to do something good for the people and the world. Just get out and do it.” He is not only saying this, he is showing us how to do this by breaking many of the customary expectations we have of the Bishop of Rome.  Pope Francis is certainly reading the signs of the times and is tune with what is happening in today’s world of people and nations.

Isaiah is the prophet par excellence when it comes to proclaiming the universality of God’s call to all nations.  God expects all to listen and to become holy, just, and without guile or deception.  All of the known regions of the earth are mentioned in Isaiah.  These were the geographical points of the globe of Isaiah’s era.  All are to come to Jerusalem and worship the Lord and even to participate in the ministry of the Temple!  This is bold open-ended prophecy from the princely and priestly prophet known as Isaiah.  The message is God’s universal summoning of all to live and enjoy the presence and glory of the Lord; to worship and to glorify God’s holy name.  Mount Zion and Jerusalem are where this can be done.

One of the main themes in Luke is universality.  The third evangelist is a Gentile and his message is all inclusive both for the Chosen People and for the Gentile Christians.  Jesus words and deeds are there for everyone according to Luke.  All are invited to the heavenly gate and the door that leads us to the messianic banquet.  Only those who refuse to journey with the Lord or refuse the call are excluded.  The door is closed to them while remaining open to all who listen and follow.

While meditating on these universal calls to holiness in the presence of God, I remembered one of the most beautiful passages about the concern of the Lord for the individual.  It appears after the scolding that is given to a very lukewarm Church in Laodicea : “I reprove and train those whom I love; so repent in real earnest. Look, I am standing at the door, knocking. If one of you hears me calling and opens the door, I will come to share a meal at that person’s side.  Anyone who proves victorious I will allow to share my throne, just as I myself have overcome and have taken my seat with my Father on his throne.  Let anyone who can hear, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the Churches.” (Revelation 3:19-22).  Amen.”

Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.

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