Ø The book that we know as the book of Isaiah is formed by three different books, written by three different authors in three different moments in history. The First Isaiah called simply Isaiah has been written by the prophet Isaiah from Jerusalem, who lived during the VIII century BC. His religious and theological orientation is the "holiness of God." We will understand this if we read c.6 his vocational call. For Isaiah any sin is an injustice against God and against our brothers and sisters, and any social injustice is a sin against the holiness of God.
Ø From chapter 40 to 55 we find the book of the Deutero-Isaiah written by an anonymous author. The book is called of Consolation, since the prophet announces to the people that their liberation is at hand. The return of the people to Israel was during the kingship of Cyrus king of Persia more than one century after the exile.
Ø The third book or Third Isaiah goes from chapter 56 to the end of the book. The prophets has the mission to encourage the people who has returned from the exile and face new difficulties they did not expect.
FIRST READING Is 66:18-21
v The first reading is taken from chapter 66 of the Third Isaiah.
v God says that he will gather all the nations and will show his glory to them.
v And he will send some from this people to announce his glory to those who do not know him yet.
v Those who believe will be brought as gifts to the Lord.
v To explain the meaning of bringing before God those who accept the faith in the God of Israel, the prophet uses the image of the Israelites bringing their offerings in pure vessels.
v The equality with the people first called will be such, that God will choose from among them, Priests and Levites.
v We know from Scripture that those services were performed by the Tribe of Levi.
v The prophet inspired by God gives us a wonderful image of the universality of salvation, of the universality of the election from God, of the universality of the call to serve the community of faith formed by peoples from all the races, nations and languages of the world.
v How appropriate this reading is in this time in which we are working so hard to get a new just law of immigration, so that all, no matter from what nation, language or race we may form together a nation.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM - Ps 117: 1-2
ü This is a psalm of praise. Israel invites all the nations to glorify God
ü Because his love is unshaken and his fidelity lasts forever.
ü GO OUT TO ALL THE WORLD AND TELL THE GOOD NEWS.
Praise the Lord, all you nations!
glorify him, all you peoples!
For steadfast is his kindness toward us
and the fidelity of the Lord endures forever.
GOSPEL Lk 13:22-30
Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem, and goes through different towns and villages proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom
Someone comes to him and has a question, a question that many of us have, and we even dare to give an answer to that question.
Will only a few people be saved?
Ø If we pay attention to that question, it is not as innocent as it seems.
Ø First of all, none of us saves him or herself. We have been saved by Jesus who lived with us, died and rose from the dead for the glory of God and for us.
Ø My good works are my response, my loving gift to Jesus for the salvation which I have already received.
Ø Few, why few? maybe we ask that because we are very used to make differences and distinctions, and surely we think that we are of the few that are saved because we are so good.
But Jesus does not give any answer to that questions, instead he tells us how we are supposed to live our life
Ø Let us enter through the narrow gate
· What is the meaning of the narrow gate? It means the difficulty. When we are too fat, or carry a large suitcase we cannot go through a narrow gate, or it will be hard for us to do it.
· The prophet Isaiah compares the rich women of the high class of Israel to fatten cows, because they accumulate riches from what belongs to the poor.
· In last Sunday's Gospel the Lord Jesus spoke of the difficulty with the image of war or division. Today he presents this same reality with the image of the narrow gate.
Ø When the door of the house is closed at night, this is the second image,
· to the one who knocks from the outside the master of the house will say "I do not know you"
· Those outside will tell him, don't you remember that we have eaten and drank at the same table with you. To eat and drink in the Scriptures has the meaning to share life together.
· They will also add, we have taught, preached in your streets.
· The master from the inside will respond again "I do not know you" and he will also add "Depart from me all you evildoers"
· And outside there will be wailing and grinding of teeth, when they will see the prophets and the poor and ignorant, those who do not count in society, together with God in the Kingdom.
· In the following of Jesus, to be from the same country and the same town of Jesus does not mean anything. Not even to belong to the Church, unless we live according to Jesus' life and teaching, unless we are faithful to our baptismal commitment. What counts is our personal relationship with Jesus, loving and serving our brothers and sisters who most need us, accepting his salvation in our life.
Ø The third image is the peoples that will come to be part of the Kingdom
· They come from the four corners of the earth to form together with the people first chosen the new people of the new Covenant.
· Heaven is portrayed as a banquet, that is, as a happy experience of life in communion, and the Kingdom begins here on earth, and all of those who do good deeds belong to it.
Ø Today's reading ends with the sentence that we repeat very often "The last will be first, and the first will be last."
· This image has the same meaning as the image of division and war of last Sunday's Gospel.
· Maybe it wants to tell us that to enter into the Kingdom does not depend so much on our effort, as on accepting lovingly and with humility this gift from the Lord. In the Kingdom there is a real and true equality among all those who are in the Kingdom, no distinction between first and last.
· Let us remember that in the first reading, all the peoples are invited to enter into the city of Jerusalem, mount Zion, symbol of the Kingdom.
SECOND READING Heb 12:5-7. 11-13
§ The author of the letter to the Hebrews compares the difficulties of our life to the correction a good parent gives to his or her child, to help him or her to become a responsible human being.
§ It is not a punishment because the parent is upset, on the contrary, he or she has to seek the wellbeing of the child.
§ God does not give the hard times to us, but he helps us to go through them and to find their meaning.
§ If a child is sick the parent will give him or her the medicine which will help to cure, even if it is painful, because this is for the sake of living. The child very often experiences this as a evil or a punishment from the parent. We do the same with respect to God in the hardships of life.
These words cause such a consolation and confusion in the soul, that only the one who has at any time heard them will be able to understand. How will it be compared to this most ungrateful creature to whom our Lord has done this grace so many times? I confess, for the glory of God, that this is the grace, which gives my soul more detachment not only from all the things of the earth and from me, but even from my own soul. And this humiliation that, in these occasions, I do not know what to tell Him: only to be ashamed and to shrink as if I would like to hide not to see the Majesty of God so humiliated, giving thanks with so great love to the least of his creatures for a little service she, helped by his divine grace, does to Him. Venerable María Antonia París, Foundress of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, Autobiography 92.
Thoroughly convinced that to be a good missionary it is both useful and essential to have love, I have searched for this hidden treasure and would sell everything in order to find it. I studied the means to acquire it and discovered the following: (1) keeping the commandments of God's law, (2) practicing the evangelical counsels, (3) corresponding faithfully with divine inspirations, (4) making one's meditation well. Saint Anthony Mary Claret, Founder of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, Autobiography 442.
CLARET, Antonio María Claret, Autobiografía.
PARIS, María Antonia, Autobiografía
RAVASI, Gianfranco, Según las Escrituras, Año C.
SCHÖKEL, Luis Alonso, Comentario a La Biblia de nuestro Pueblo
PAGOLA, José A. Following in the Footsteps of Jesus. Meditations on the Gospels for Year C.