Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 25, 2019
Today, in Mercy, our first reading gives us the conclusion of the magnificent Book of Isaiah. Most biblical scholars today attribute this book to at least three different authors writing over the period of two centuries. The book is thus divided into three sections: First, Second, and Third Isaiah – each reflecting a particular time and circumstance in the history of the Jewish people.
Despite its multi-authorship, the Book holds an essential integrity throughout. As a whole, it is the story of the displacement and restoration of Israel. That dynamic is poetically articulated through the themes of loss, grief, hope, and responsiveness to hope. These themes are so fundamentally human and universal that Isaiah stands as one of the most influential scriptures, both spiritually and culturally.
Today’s passage from Isaiah, combined with the Lukan symbol of the narrow gate, strike a powerful message for us – as individuals, as Church, as global citizens.
There is one Kingdom in God and we ALL are invited to it.
I come to gather nations of every language;
they shall come and see my glory.
But we will find our way to this Kingdom by the twists of suffering and compassion, living on one side or the other of that reciprocal throughout our lives.
How we support, include, love and minister with one another in our “displacement” determines our “restoration”:
And people 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
We know the works of mercy and our call to live them. Let’s pray for the strength to do so fully and joyfully.
Let’s pray for all nations, especially our own, to respond in mercy and hope to the displaced people of our time, knowing that it is only with them that we shall find the narrow gate.
Music: The People That Walked in Darkness (Is. 9:2) from Handel’s Messiah
Sung by James Milligan with Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra