All are welcome
Rev. Paul V. Redmond
Mount St. Mary's University
(8-22-10) With St. Luke in his gospel edging us on we continue to follow Jesus southbound to Jerusalem, the city of his destiny. While teaching his disciples, someone blurts
out the question: will only a few people be saved? Jesus by-passes this question. He realizes that those of us who would raise such a question are more concerned about the head-count than we are concerned
about whether we ourselves would be included in the final in-gathering of the redeemed.
Jesus nimbly replies: "Focus instead on getting in shape so that you can accept Godís gift of being redeemed." Grow deeply in the awareness of my Fatherís love for you and for
all humans and try to live out that awareness."
That fascinating questionó"Will only a few people be saved?" has echoed through the ages. Does God restrict his hospitality only to those who are good living Christians,
followers of Jesus? Or, does he have an inclusive love for all people?---no matter what religion or lack of religion they profess? In our prejudice we tend to restrict Godís love only to those who think and
live as we try to do. Todayís news reports and the sickening, unthinking narrow views of certain TV evangelists challenge you and me to see if we subscribe to such a narrowing or restriction of Godís love.
This means that we need to examine our prejudices.
In examining myself about any prejudices that I have not yet brought to the surface in my life---I find it essential to ask the Lord for the strength to become aware of
them---and asking one or perhaps two intimate friends to assist me in what is obvious to others, but not to myself. .
A prejudice is an unexamined opinion that we somehow form and nurture before all the facts are in. A prejudice may be in favor or in disapproval of whatís going on. Todayís
scripture readings help us to question ourselves. Do we tend to put limits or boundaries on Godís love and mercy? "Lord, will only a few be saved?" Is everyone welcomed into your kingdom?
A short tale by a rabbi may help us in examining ourselves. A rabbi asks his students how do we determine the hour of dawn when night ends and day begins? One student answered:
"When from a distance we can distinguish a dog from a sheep?" "No," answered the rabbi. "Tell us" cried the students. "You will know that the sun has risen," said the rabbi, "when you can look into the faces
of human beings and you have enough light to recognize them as your sisters and brothers. Until then, you are living in the darkness of your prejudices. And, as comfortable as those prejudices may be to
you---they cripple your vision, your search for the truth. You are walking in the night, and not in the light." Todayís readings prompt us to examine ourselves and renew our commitment to live in the light of
God does not ask you and me to define our little cubicle, our little niche compared to other people. What really counts in the words of Father Henri Nouwen is "to let the
immense suffering of our brothers and sisters free us from all arrogance and from all judgments and condemnations and give us a heart as gentle and humble as the heart of Jesus."
As we read and watch the current news or recent history about slaughter and starvation and other evils that stagger the imagination, we can easily ask the enduring question:
"Lord, what about any of these peopleóboth victims and abusers? him? her? them? Jesus says to us what he said to Peter who wanted to know what would happen to John? What does it matter to you? You are to
follow me. (John 21:21-2)
Often in our spiritual growth you and I have been encouraged to see Christ in the other person? This may strike us like "whistling in the wind." How about a rougher question:
"Can you and I see Christ in the world today?"
May God grace us to see that "Only through Jesus living in our own lives can we see Jesus living in others. Only through our graced response to Jesus living in our lives can
we, as a people rooted in faith, see Jesus in the world today."
We can add a footnote to the tale by the rabbi: We will know that the night has ended, sun has risen and the day begun when we can look into the face of any human beingóno
matter who they are or what they are doingóand strengthened by the light of Christ alive in us let him open our eyes and to see him somehow in the other person. Then we can recognize them as our sisters and
brothers. Only through the Spirit of the living Christ in us can we see Christ in someone else. Living our lives in such graced awareness may we someday at the end of our adventure see Jesus Christ, the face
Introduction to Scripture Readings
Godís knowledge of who we humans are, "warts and all," does not block him from knowing us, loving us, and working through us to gather nations of every language and religion to
come and see his divine glory. In the Jewish tradition Godís glory was in the Holy of Holies section of the temple in Jerusalem.
You l and I who have been forgiven, redeemed and welcomed home to God are privileged and responsible for being living signs who will direct others to God. If w are not open to
see the wide sweep of Godís gathering and trying, somehow in our way, to work toward that goal in prayer or In whatever ways we can, then we simply remain in the darkness of our own making.
A Reading from the Book of Isaiah
Our author invites us to look at the rough moments in our lives as "teachable moments", as sources of growth. In no way are any sufferings that we face Godís punishments for
our sins. Our author asks us to broaden our horizons and look to the good results that come from our struggle to live an honest and morally upright way of life. If we play on through the times we are hurt, we
end up healed. He advises us to get ourselves in gear and push forward.
A Reading from the Letter to the Hebrews
Read other homilies by Father Paul