Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 21, 2022
I am the way, the truth and the life, says the Lord;
no one comes to the Father, except through me.
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we glimpse what the great gathering in heaven might be like.
Have you ever gotten an e-vite in your email? Perhaps an invitation to a gala event or a birthday party? All you need do to respond is to click a “Yes” or “ No” button. And then you can look to see who else has been invited and what response each has clicked. You can get a pretty clear picture of what the party will be like – chummy, snobby, noisy, elegant, boring, mind-blowing ….
Isaiah records a guest list for us of all who will be invited to God’s party. That “party” described in Isaiah 66 imagines a restored Jerusalem and a rebuilt Temple. It is an image of what Creation will look like when enveloped in God at the end times. It’s pretty cool!
They shall bring all your brothers and sisters from all the nations
as an offering to the LORD,
on horses and in chariots, in carts, upon mules and dromedaries,
to Jerusalem, my holy mountain, says the LORD…
Isaiah’s community really needed to hear that encouraging vision because the Temple-less Jerusalem they were living in had been devastated by the Babylonian invasions. For the Israelites, the Temple and the Holy City modeled the Kingdom to come. They had a long way to go before their environment was restored to Isaiah’s predicted dimensions. Isaiah helps them journey through present reality for the sake of future hope.
In our second reading, Paul gives a similar kind of encouragement to Hebrew converts who were finding difficulties in the pursuit of their new Christian faith. They too had to learn to suffer through in order to realize their hope.
At the time,
all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain,
yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness
to those who are trained by it.
So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees.
Make straight paths for your feet,
that what is lame may not be disjointed but healed.
When questioned about heaven, Jesus says it’s not a piece of cake to get in. You have to “know somebody”, and that somebody is the God of your heart.
Jesus answered them,
“Strive to enter through the narrow gate,
for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter
but will not be strong enough.
Jesus echoes Isaiah in describing the glorious mix of guests at the heavenly party:
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.
I know I want to be at that party. And we all want to see one another there, right?!
So let’s help each other:
- get on our “horses, chariots, carts, mules, dromedaries” or any other assistance for our journey
- strengthen our drooping hands to reach for righteousness
- find the narrow gate and pass through it
- finally recline at the table
Poetry: God – Khalil Gibran
In the ancient days, when the first quiver of speech came to my lips, I ascended the holy mountain and spoke unto God, saying, “Master, I am thy slave. Thy hidden will is my law and I shall obey thee for ever more.”
But God made no answer, and like a mighty tempest passed away.
And after a thousand years I ascended the holy mountain and again spoke unto God, saying, “Creator, I am thy creation. Out of clay hast thou fashioned me and to thee I owe mine all.”
And God made no answer, but like a thousand swift wings passed away.
And after a thousand years I climbed the holy mountain and spoke unto God again, saying, “Father, I am thy son. In pity and love thou hast given me birth, and through love and worship I shall inherit thy kingdom.”
And God made no answer, and like the mist that veils the distant hills he passed away.
And after a thousand years I climbed the sacred mountain and again spoke unto God, saying, “My God, my aim and my fulfilment; I am thy yesterday and thou are my tomorrow. I am thy root in the earth and thou art my flower in the sky, and together we grow before the face of the sun.”
Then God leaned over me, and in my ears whispered words of sweetness, and even as the sea that enfoldeth a brook that runneth down to her, he enfolded me.
And when I descended to the valleys and the plains God was there also.
Music: Paradise by Mehdi – a beautiful composition to put a little kick in your step on the way up the Mountain! 🙂
One thought on “Alleluia: Who’s Coming to the Party?”
Frank Brimleys painting For Such is the Kingdom of Heaven is an 1871 painting depicting a funeral procession for a baby. Beautiful yet sad because of the prevalence of child mortality in that era. “The kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
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