August 21, 2022 – 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/082122.cfm)
It is a standard procedure in airports that each passenger must go through metal detector devices and the luggage to x-ray machines. Each passenger will pass these, and the nearer we are at the gate, we have to pass through the machines again and by this time in a more thorough and stricter manner. Metals in the body are removed, these include, mobile phones, watches, belts, coins and even shoes at times are asked to be removed. When there will be undesirable objects like scissors, lighters or any pointed objects and even breakable items like bottles which exceed to the allowed size, everything has to be to be surrendered. A passenger has to let go of them or take the hassle again of going back to the check-in counter.
I realized also that the more I bring unnecessary things in my flight the more it becomes troublesome for me. Besides, if I bring undesirable items too then, I am asked to let go of those things that are not allowed in the flight just for me to be allowed to board.
This realization brought me into today’s readings. So, I invite you also that we see again and discover how God unfolds his invitations for us today on this 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Someone asked Jesus, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” We would wonder why that man asked about that. Well, the path that Jesus was taking seemed too difficult for this man. This was the reason why he asked the Lord about this. Jesus’ way was totally different from the trend at that time. People believed in a God who was so far away, too powerful and almighty. Yet, Jesus presented a God who is so close with the people. The people believed in an untouchable God who burdens them with so many laws to follow. Yet, Jesus introduced to them a God who heals the broken-hearted, who favored the poor and the despised. Their world taught them that they should be above others, to be rich, famous and powerful. But then, Jesus remained humble and poor, simple and unassuming, weak and powerless.
The Lord desires that everyone will be saved, and will experience healing and peace, reconciliation and freedom. This is what we have heard from the first reading in the Book of Isaiah. It was an affirmation of God’s desire to gather every one whether Jews or Gentiles, sinners or saints, rich or poor. People from all nations will come to worship the Lord. Indeed, it is God’s desire that all will be saved by overcoming the division and hatred in each one through reconciliation
However, as it was at the time of Jesus, we continue to prevent the Lord from making us closer to him. Our tendency to advance our selfish desires and interests at the expense of others, stops us in allowing the Lord to work in us. Selfishness and arrogance continue to hold us back from God.
Yet, God’s salvation is offered to us freely, but not imposed on us. And so it means that salvation also requires our participation. This makes the door of salvation “narrow” because of the commitment that it entails as we live our life.
To understand this better, the Letter to the Hebrews tells us on how we could enter that narrow gate. It is through “discipline.” The author wants to tell us that the trials and sufferings that we endure in this life are opportunities for us to be disciplined by God. And this is where we can participate with God.
When we encounter problems and difficulties, and disappointments, particularly in your marriage, with your families, with your friends, with your studies, or work or business – do not retreat or become aggressive. Retreating or being aggressive will do us no good. These trials are opportunities for us to build our personality, to be responsible, to grow with confidence, to be committed, to be honest, and to gain more wisdom.
But remember, in this kind of discipline, God never desires us to suffer or to be in pain. Pain and suffering are part of this world where we are now. Yet, God, in His wisdom, uses these human experiences of pain, suffering, disappointments, failures, and fears as ways to discipline us. These are doors for us to welcome God in our life so that He may be able to bring blessings upon us, to give us His peace and freedom. Certainly, God desires that we turn to Him and become closer to Him.
Indeed, trials in life are ways for us to strip ourselves from our arrogance, to let go of our selfish desires, and to turn away from our sinful ways. These are the unnecessary baggage that will prevent us from entering the narrow gate. Yet, when we come as we are, without any pretensions and selfishness, then, we shall see that the narrow gate of Jesus is wider than us.
Hence today, there are three invitations that I want you to remember and that also serves as your take aways.
First, show and express God’s desire for the salvation of all. But how? It is by offering and giving of peace and reconciliation. This calls us to recognize pain the we have caused and to amend what we have done. This calls us too to embrace forgiveness no matter how difficult it may be for us. Only then, that we shall find healing and freedom.
Second, God desires our active participation. This means that in the work of redemption we are not mere bystanders and mere observers. As we participate with God let us listen attentively to His voice in the scriptures, in our sacraments, in our culture, in our current events and with those who are suffering in many ways in our community, so that we may be able to respond with compassion and love, in justice and in mercy.
Third, be instruments of God’s salvation. This calls us now that in whatever status or standing we have in our society, each of us is called to be an instrument of salvation, of healing and peace to each one and not agents of death and damnation, not agents of curse and hatred, not agents of corruption and dishonesty. Kabay pa.