Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

“They shall come and see my glory” Isaiah prophesies, “They shall come and see my glory.”  This passage is taken from the last chapter of the book of the prophet Isaiah and from a section known as the “Third Isaiah” or the Trito Isaiah.  The poetic passage is presumed to have been written by the followers of the original prophet and is directed to the people of Isreal returning to their land from the Babylonian Exile which lasted from 598 to 538 BC.  The people of Judah were returning to their native land and finding it destroyed and abandoned after they had been in captivity for the past sixty years.  In the midst of this sadness, despair, and seemingly insurmountable challenges, the prophetic message from the Lord is that “They shall come and see my glory.”  More than that, the Lord will call forth people to be signs of God’s fidelity and commitment to be with his people always.  These people who are signs of God’s love will inspire hope into this lost and sorrowful people of Judah.  God does not promise that he will take away the people’s many challenges, but he does promise that he will be with them through the challenges and rebuilding years, guiding them along the path of purity and holiness once again.

The Letter to the Hebrews, the second reading, points out the hard reality that the Lord disciplines those whom He loves.  To be a child of God is not the easy life or the problem free philosophy, but the life of discipline, perseverance, and fidelity amidst the challenges, sorrows, and persecution.  Ultimately, as Jesus emphasizes in our Gospel today,  “Strive to enter through the narrow gate”.  This narrow gate is the life of discipline, is the life of perseverance and fidelity even against the times of hardship; is the life of an unconditional surrender to the will of the Lord so as to live the life of discipleship to Jesus Christ.  All of us face many challenges in our lives.  The question that we must remind ourselves is how will we respond to these challenges and tribulations of life?  Will we succumb to the many distractions and the overwhelming sense of fear, or, will we strive for the narrow gate of discipline which forms and fashions us into disciples?  What Christ says to motivate us is that the end of all of the challenges and discipline is a peaceful place in the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven.  At this feast we shall look upon the face of the heavenly Father and praise, reverence, and serve him.  “They shall come and see my glory.”  There is nothing better.

August 21st, 2016