August 21, 2016
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
“For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” Who is Jesus speaking about? Scholars most often view this passage as speaking of the great eschatological reversal of fortunes. Those who seem to be rich and blessed in this life will be poor in the life to come, and those who are seemingly poor and cursed in this world will be rich and highly blessed in the next. While both a warning and promise of hope, let’s focus here on the warning to those who simply believe themselves to be first in the eyes of God, who in fact are really far from the kingdom. They falsely believe that they have a privileged place with Him when in fact they do not even know Him. Who are these misguided individuals? Well, some believe them to be the Pharisees, or the Sadducees or simply the remaining Jews of Palestine in the time of Jesus as opposed to the lost tribes of Israel. Others just point to the rich, self-righteous and powerful. We tend to point to those not like ourselves.
But who is Jesus really speaking to in this passage? Luke, the evangelist of this Gospel, is profoundly vague in this regard. He says simply, “Someone asked Jesus.” We don’t even know where this “someone” lived, for Luke says that Jesus was teaching as He was making His way through towns and villages. Could Luke be more elusive? It could have taken place almost anywhere, and it could have been almost anyone: male or female, young or elderly, rich or poor, educated or not, religious or unbeliever. It could have been anyone of us, and this is the point! Let’s believe for a moment, that Jesus is trying to ask me, “So you think you are first… among the “in” crowd, that you deserve to be saved, that it doesn’t matter what you do?” “Really?”
One thing is paramount… our answer to the question, “How close am I to Him?” Apart from Him, we can do nothing, but in communion with Him all things are possible. So, do I really know Him? Does He know me, and does He know where I am coming from? Do we abide in one another? Sure, we who come to the Eucharist week after week could also say, “Lord, we ate and drank in Your company and You taught in our streets.” But proximity to the real presence of Christ, even taking Him under our roof is not enough if we quickly deny or ignore His life-changing presence. Nor is it enough to hear His Word proclaimed and explained in homilies if it doesn’t open our eyes to what is really real. Intimacy, two becoming one, the wedding feast of the Lamb, this is why He came, why He laid down His life for us and why He gives Himself to us. Unfortunately, to settle for less… is not salvation!
Catechism Question of the Week: In which Gospel does Jesus teach that “since sin is universal, those who pretend not to need salvation are blind to themselves?” A) Matthew, B) Mark, C) Luke, or D) John (see CCC 588)
With family, friends and those you meet, please discuss the following Question of the Week: As a disciple of Jesus, have you been watched carefully? Did your example draw or push the observers away from Jesus and the Church?
In Christ’s Peace,