The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home
August 25, 2019 – 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time - Luke 13:22-30
I once thought that it’s very important to know everything. It was part of my religious responsibilities. I knew enough to know, however, that this was not possible, but I still believed that I should at least try to know everything that I could. So, I diligently went to school for most of my young life. I listened to what teachers said and took a lot of notes. I read the books I was assigned to read and many more besides. After completing formal education, I became a theology professor and kept listening and learning and reading. Deep down I believed that my daily life and my eternal salvation were tied to what I knew and what I did. Lifelong learning contributed to my belief that I was in charge.
As I read the gospel for today, I became a little uncomfortable. Especially the concluding words of Jesus that the last will be first and the first will be last. Of course, this makes little sense in our world (and my own) which values position and accomplishment and all sorts of criteria about who will be truly best of God’s Kingdom, both now and forever. I want to think that I will be at least near the front of the line, reserved for those who did a lot for God. I thought about all the books I had read, all that I had written and all the good things I did during my life. Surely, that qualifies me for earning “early boarding” on to that final ‘airplane’ flight to heaven.
Now I realize that this is not the way God has arranged things. Yes, there is a divine plan that is carefully and completely established by God, but it’s not the one I (and many others) create. In another part of the gospel Jesus tells us that God’s ways are not our own. Actually, God’s plan is a million times better than anyone you or I might construct.
Further, we do not have direct access to all of God’s plan. We know some of it, but some of its deeper meaning is beyond us. Like the part that says the last shall be first. God knows what that means but none of us have a clue. If we think we do, we are wrong.
So how can we survive when we don’t know the whole truth of God’s intent and ways with us. We trust God! We practice what earlier saints called “holy abandonment.” We place ourselves in the hands and heart of God and pray, “Thy will be done!” (Not my kingdom come.) We put ourselves and our lives and those close to us in God’s care knowing that God knows best. This does not relieve us of responsibilities. It places us, however, in a much better situation where we can trust in God’s help because we are where God wants us to be.
©David M. Thomas, PhD
REFLECTION QUESTIONS: Download this simple Observe-Judge-Act method for discussion with your family or your CFM group.