Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle C

Twenty First Sunday in Ordinary Time

caravaggio, jesus.jpg

Luke 13:22-30

“Sir, will there be only a few saved?”

The question put to Jesus is one which intrigues us still: ‘will many or only a few be saved?’ Jesus does not answer that question, but addresses the need for everyone to strive for salvation. He points out that salvation does not come to anyone automatically, or without some degree of personal effort and commitment. To ‘try your best’ really means to persevere in the demanding personal struggle required to enter by the narrow door.

Jesus then expands on the need for personal commitment. No use simply to be a member of God’s chosen people; nor will it do simply to be able to claim some superficial familiarity with Jesus. People may have come near to him, but not been for him. The master of the house will be looking for personal commitment. It costs something to enter into the household of God, and the cost can only be met personally. Jesus then goes on to say that people “from east to west, from north to south, will come to take their place at the feast in the kingdom of God”.

There is a warning here: salvation does not come simply from being a member of the ‘right’ group, or from having dined with the ‘right’ company. Some who feel cosy about the future will have their expectations turned upside down. The ‘in’ group may find themselves left out, while the ‘outsiders’ will be the ones welcomed in. Once again Jesus confronts us with God’s reversal of human values. To be ‘in’ with God does not compare with the demands of belonging to the ‘great and the good’ of this world. It is not a question of class or connections. It is, in the first place, a question of God’s favour and then of our honest struggle to respond.