Meal of Salvation, Meal of Judgment

by | Aug 16, 2022 | Formation, Reflections

Jesus is the meal to which we are all invited, so that we may not perish but have eternal life.  Do we come to it wearing the proper attire?

To enter God’s kingdom, it is not enough to be in a meal with Jesus, once, twice or more.  He says so as he answers one who asks, “Lord, will only a few be saved?”

There is no mention of the name of the one who asks.  This may suggest it is a question we all ask time and again.  That is to say, it has to do with what we ask about the meaning of life (GS 1).

But Jesus lets us know that that the one who asks is not on target.  True, his question comes from the depths of our being and worries us.  Yet Jesus does not answer it.

For him, it is not a matter of how many or who will be saved.  Or if only a few will share in the Messiah’s interim rule.  Or if only those from Israel will make up God’s kingdom when he fully sets it up.  Rather, it is a matter of what should all do to get to share the meal in God’s kingdom.

Yes, it is about what should those from Israel, and those from the east and the west, have to do.  And those, too, from the north and the south.  For, after all, the Lord will gather nations of all tongues and will set a sign for them.

Indeed, Jesus’ concern has to do with the how of salvation.  And it is what he teaches in towns and villages on the way to Jerusalem.  Hence, he tells one and all, “Strive to go in through the narrow gate.”

The way to, and the meal in, the kingdom

There are two gates and two ways:  the wide gate and the easy way; the narrow gate and the hard way.  The first gate and first way, through which many pass, lead to ruin.  But the second gate and the second way, that few find, lead to life.

The narrow gate and the hard road, of course, point to the hard work that repentance demands.  For Jesus’ gate and way have nothing to do with “cheap grace.”

No, Jesus does not call us to laxity.  That is to say, to be free as Christians does not mean to be libertines (see SV.EN XII:81).  And, of course, God is not to be mocked.  Also, to be a disciple means mortification and discipline, as St. Paul and the letter to the Hebrews speak of them.

But Jesus’ gate and way are, most of all, about the “simple faith of Yahweh’s poor.”  This faith goes against those who are sure and boast of God’s blessings, those who trust too much in their being “first.”  In their being chosen.  For being so sure and haughty, they run the risk of ending up “last.”  Maybe they do not recall what God says:  “You only have I chosen of all the families of the earth; so, I will punish you for all your sins.”

Hence, those who strive to go in through Jesus’ gate and way do not take their salvation for granted.  Do we belong to them?  Do we come to Jesus’ meal wearing the proper attire?

Lord Jesus, do not let us belong to those who are haughty  and go to your meal, yet sow division.

21 August 2022
21st Sunday in O.T. (C)
Is 66, 18-21; Heb 12, 5-7. 11-13; Lk 13, 22-30