Ordinary Time - Week 21c

Universal Redemption

(From Conversation with God, Fernandez Carvajal)

Apart from its other disastrous consequences, original sin produced the bitter fruit of propagating divisions among men. Pride and selfishness are rooted in the first sin and are the fundamental causes of hatred, isolation and division. The Redemption, on the other hand, brings about the union of mankind through the charity of Christ whereby we become children of God and brothers and sisters of one another. Our Lord, through his redemptive love, becomes the focal point of mankind. This is what was foretold by the prophet Isaiah, as we read in the first reading at this morning's Mass: "I am coming to gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and shall see my glory, and I will set a sign among them. And from them I shall send survivors to the nations, to those that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the nations." It is a great calling of all peoples to faith and salvation, without distinction of language, race or degree of social advancement. The prophecy comes to pass with the coming of the Messiah, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

In the Gospel, Saint Luke records Jesus' reply to one who asked him a question as they journeyed towards Jerusalem: "Lord will those who are saved be few?" Jesus didn't choose to answer the question directly. The Master goes further than that and stresses the essential facts. They ask him about numbers, and he speaks about the manner: "Strive to enter by the narrow door." And he goes on to teach them that in order to enter the Kingdom - which is the only thing that really counts - it is not enough to belong to the Chosen People, or to have a false confidence in him: "Then you will begin to say, We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets. But the Lord will say, I tell you, I do not know where you come from; depart from me, all you workers of iniquity." All those divine privileges are not enough. What is needed is a faith with works, the kind of faith to which we have all been called.

All of mankind have a vocation to go to heaven, Christ's definitive Kingdom. This is what we have been born for, because "God desires all men to be saved." When Christ died on the Cross, the Temple veil was torn in two as a sign that the separation between Jews and Gentiles was ended. From then on, all men are called to form part of the Church, the new People of God, which, whilst remaining one and only one, is to be spread throughout the whole world and to all ages in order that the design of God's Will may be fulfilled: he made human nature one in the beginning and has decreed that all his children who are scattered shall be finally gathered together as one.

The Second Reading points out what our mission is in this universal task of salvation: "Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your trembling knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put completely out of joint but rather be healed." It is a call to be exemplary in order to encourage, with our conduct and with our charity, those who are wavering and have less strength. Many will lean upon us; others will understand that the narrow path that leads to heaven becomes a broad way for those who love Christ.