Sunday readings in brief 21 C
Is 66:18-21; Ps 116(117); Hb 12:5-7, 11-13; Lk 13:22-30
The ultimate end
Dear friends, today is the 21st Sunday in ordinary time. We have 13 more Sundays in this season of catechetical instructions about the Kingdom of God. Today’s readings are converging on the theme of THE ULTIMATE END. There is a refrain that says “The end is better that the beginning”. Another one says, “All that has a beginning will eventually come to an end”. No matter how good or bad the beginning was it is how everything ends that matters.
Between the beginning and the end, there is a process. Take for example a student’s life. The efforts that he or she puts in the process of learning or otherwise lack of them, will eventually determine the results. Similarly, as Christians, our journey to heaven will be determined by the efforts we put into living righteously.
At every end, there can be a number of outcomes: victory or defeat, restoration or destruction, life or death, success or failure, etc. In the first reading, the Prophet Isaiah consoles the people of Israel who were suffering in captivity, that the Lord would restore them by bringing them back from where they were scattered. They only needed to remain steadfast in the Lord. This is the message for us today in our different circumstances.
There could be sufferings that may be discouraging you from continuing on the path of righteousness. You may be feeling as though you are being punished for being good. The passage from the letter to the Hebrews has a message for you. The Swahili refrain summarizes it “If you see them glittering, know that someone made them so”. In the process of creating a beautiful sculpture, a lot of chiseling is required. In every good soldier, there is a very painful period of training.
The author of the letter to the Hebrews tells us that God trains his sons and daughters to shape them according to his will. “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him” (Proverbs 13:24). I hear many people lamenting the upbringing of children today that has left them with no guidance in the name of civilization. Away from corporal punishment, children need to be corrected and guided on the right path.
In the Gospel reading, we learn that when the end comes, there will be no time for negotiations. Only those who have what it takes will be allowed in. The rest will be locked out and no amount of pleading will be enough to change the situation. There will be no bribery at the gate of heaven. The message is “Make hay while the sun shines”. The prevalent human behavior is to postpone things until the end and later complain about the long queues, slow tellers, and clogged systems, strict guards, etc., when there was a lot of time before to do things comfortably and with just enough effort.
It does not matter how we start but how we end. If you look around, there are so many tired and discouraged people in many offices. We are all very nostalgic about the olden days when the systems functioned. Lack of renewal and ongoing formation makes us dull and end badly. As Christians, every day must be like the day we were baptized. The white linen we were given as a symbol of our cleansed hearts must remain clean. This can be done through regular repentance and learning from our past mistakes and the mistakes of others.
Dear friends, I invite us to evaluate our performance in our respective responsibilities and see if we are doing our best or have turned into perpetual complainants about everyone and everything. We can do something about the situation while we still have time.
Have a blessed Sunday.
Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD (svdkentan.com)