21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13
August 25, 2013
Isaiah speaks the message of the Lord that he will invite people of every language to see his glory. He speaks of how ALL will be an offering to the Lord. The Lord goes so far as to say He will even call some of the people from other nations to be priests and Levites.
To the Israelites, this would seem astonishing. They saw themselves as a chosen people and indeed they were. They also saw themselves as an exclusive people but the Lord didn’t. To them, it might be astonishing that Gentiles could be part of God’s people. Even more astonishing is for them to serve as priests and Levites for that was a heredity duty.
The Israelites were indeed a chosen people but salvation would be made open to all.
A few hundred years later, at the time of Jesus, the question of salvation was still open. We hear a person ask Jesus “Lord, will only a few people be saved?”
An honest question, one that we might all like to know the answer to. If only a few will be saved, then we know it is not easy.
Jesus tells us that not all are strong enough. He teaches that the path is not easy, that we must enter through the narrow gate.
This idea of the narrow gate signifies that we cannot do whatever we want and still get into Heaven. There are rules that must be followed.
So how many will be saved? Are some destined not to be saved? We should desire that ALL be saved. But will all be saved?
In the words of consecration for the wine, we hear words that beg this question. Referring to the Blood of Christ, we hear the words “which will be poured out for you and for many.”
We used to say “for all”. Does this mean that we used to belief that all will be saved but now we believe that only many will be saved?
Our theology has not changed. In fact, in the official Latin text, the words here did not change. It has always been ‘for many’.
Why the distinction?
Salvation is possible for all. Jesus wants everyone to be saved but Jesus knows not all will accept the gift.
What must we do to accept the gift? We must enter through the narrow gate. We must live as Jesus calls us to live. Not everyone will. God knows we are not perfect but we must try. As long as we try, when we fail, God forgives us in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
It isn’t enough just to show up in church. People tell Jesus that they ate and drank in his company but He tells them he does not know them.
Salvation is a gift open to all. Are we willing to live in a way that accepts the gift?