Sunday 21 August 2022 – WHEN THE LAST BECOMES FIRST

21st Sunday of the Ordinary Time

1st Reading: Isaiah 66:18–21

Thus says the Lord:  I know their works and their thoughts, and I come to gather nations of every language; they shall come and see my glory.  I will set a sign among them; from them I will send fugitives to the nations:  to Tarshish, Put and Lud, Mosoch, Tubal and Javan, to the distant coastlands that have never heard of my fame, or seen my glory; and they shall proclaim my glory among the nations.  They shall bring all your brothers and sisters from all the nations as an offering to the Lord, on horses and in chariots, in carts, upon mules and dromedaries, to Jerusalem, my holy mountain, says the Lord, just as the Israelites bring their offering to the house of the Lord in clean vessels Some of these I will take as priests and Levites, says the Lord.

2nd Reading: Hebrews 12:5–7, 11–13

Brothers and sisters, you have forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as children: “My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord or lose heart when reproved by him; for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines; he scourges every son he acknowledges.”  Endure your trials as “discipline”; God treats you as sons.  For what “son” is there whom his father does not discipline?  At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.  So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees.  Make straight paths for your feet, that what is lame may not be disjointed but healed.

Gospel: Luke 13:22–30

Jesus passed through towns and villages, teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem.  Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” He answered them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.  After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, ‘Lord, open the door for us.  He will say to you in reply, ‘I do not know where you are from.’ And you will say, ‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’ Then he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from.  Depart from me, all you evildoers!  And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves cast out.  And peop le will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the kingdom of God.  For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

WHEN THE LAST BECOMES FIRST: The people of Israel were the first nation to worship the only one, true and living God. They were proud because their nation was governed by the commandments given by the living God, the Creator of all things visible and invisible. Some of them even thought that they will be the first to enter heaven and occupy the front seats there. Nothing is wrong with that sort of thinking. Entering and occupying front seats in heaven is reserved not only for the Israelites, but for all those who strive to make sure that they are not evildoers. Whether one is an Israelite, a Christian or not, to enter heaven and occupy a seat there, one must not be an evildoer. If Jewish and Christian believers are evildoers, they should not be surprised to see non-Jews and non-Christians being the first to enter heaven and occupying the front seats, while they themselves are left behind. If Jewish and Christian believers become evildoers, God will move a step further and replace with non-Jewish, non-Christian for his priests and Levites (Isaiah 66:21). In other words, those whom the Jews and Christians thought would be the last to enter heaven will now be the first.

Prayer: Deliver all people from evil Lord.


WILL I BE SAVED?  Christ saved us all through his death and resurrection. When he ascended into heaven, he opened the gates of salvation for the whole of the human race. Salvation involves both Christ and ourselves. Christ has already fulfilled his role in our salvation. What is left is for us to fulfill our part in our salvation. We can only fulfill our role when we listen to what Christ is telling us and practice them. Listening to Christ and doing his will is necessary for our salvation. Otherwise the words of Jesus can be a reality in our life too: “I do not know where you are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers’’ (Luke 13:27). Christ will give that answer if we did not do his will. Salvation will never come to us in a silver plate. It will come to us only when we work towards denying evil and doing the will of God. Doing the will of God at times can cost us dearly; but like Christ we too have to sacrifice ourselves to attain our salvation.