Homily Twenty-first Sunday Year C Salvation

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Homily Twenty-first Sunday Year C

Reading 1: Isaiah is prophesying to the people in exile that God is going to change their situation. He will bring them back to Jerusalem and restore the nation and the Temple. But there is a fuller interpretation that applies not to that present situation in time and place of history, but in the future. God will save not just the Chosen People, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but nations of every language.

“To see my glory” is to know the plan of salvation for them which is to end in eternal life. “The sign” is the cross through which we have been saved. “The fugitives” who proclaim the Good News of salvation are the apostles and their disciples.  Through the ages they will go to the ends of the world, to people who have not seen God’s glory or hear of God’s plan, as the Chosen People had.

Who are these? “The Gentiles”, these will become an offering to God from whom he will call forth priests and Levites. This is the priesthood of the New Covenant which is not like the priesthood of the Old Covenant. The latter was passed on from one generation to the next through natural inheritance. The priesthood envisioned by Isaiah is one chosen and called by God.

This passage is an initial understanding of the universality of salvation. God wills all to be saved and come to share in his eternal glory. This salvation is brought about through the death and resurrection of Jesus. This unmerited gift of salvation is responded to by faith and acceptance on the part of those who are saved.

Gospel: The question is not how many will be saved but will I be saved? Without being unconcerned about the salvation of others, we need to focus on our own salvation. As I said, salvation is a pure gift from God. We don’t earn it. Rather, we are called to respond to the gift, accept it and live in a way which reflects this marvelous work of God in us.

Just to know Jesus or know about him is not enough. To know some facts of science or to know a scientist, doesn’t make me a scientist. “Lord, we ate and drank in your company; we heard your teachings.” What was Jesus’ response? “Not the one who says Lord, Lord, but who does the will of my Father.”

We must respond on God’s terms, not ours. How important is our being with God forever? In a priority scale, in fact, is it that important or realistically other things or more or equally important to us?

Jesus says the way to enter the kingdom of God is narrow. It is radical, calling for dying to self and sin; calling for embracing the will of God no matter what. It is not a lack on God’s part if we are not saved, but a lack on our part to recognize the gift we are given and not willing to sacrifice everything for it.

The words I do not want God to say to me at the end of my life are “I don’t know you or where you come from.” That will mean our whole life was a total waste because, even though we are meant to be with God forever in glory, we chose otherwise. These choices will have led to eternal alienation form the face of God.

Reading 2: We know that as human beings we need to be helped to develop our potential and that discipline is part of the process that is used universally. An undisciplined person is unprepared for the trials of life. The discipline of obedience, of work, of education, of proper interacting with others—all are part of our natural formation. The writer of Hebrews uses this human process as an analogy of what God does with us spiritually for our salvation.

The key word that we have to remember is love. When God disciplines us, shapes us, instruct us, purifies us, it is out of his love that he so treats us. So the trials of life that we don’t understand are not part of our journey to make life miserable, but to prepare us for something greater. At the moment we may complain because we don’t see the bigger picture or ultimate fruit that can come from this difficulty. But when we look back we realize how important that moment was for our future.

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