(21st Ordinary Sunday: Isaiah 66:18-21; Hebrews 12:5-13; Luke 12:22-30)
In recent weeks we have reflected on some challenging readings, and today seems to be no exception. In Hebrews we are told to accept trials as a form of discipline. In the gospel, Jesus tells us to enter by the narrow gate.
Fortunately, this is not the whole picture. Discipline “brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness,” and Jesus concludes, “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.”
The first reading reflects this more optimistic view. God declares, “I come to gather nations of every language; they shall come and see my glory.”
This reminds us of an American hymn composed 40 years ago. Its title is Here in this Place, but it is also commonly called “Gather us in,” from a recurring phrase in the text. (We apologize for using a source unfamiliar to many. We hope it will remind the readers of our French, Spanish or Polish editions of similar hymns in your own language.)
“Gather us in, the lost and forsaken/Gather us in, the blind and the lame.” We may feel the weight of our sins, like the famous ghost of Marley in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, who dragged behind him a ponderous chain forged by selfish greed.
Still, we hope to be admitted to the grand assembly. The next two lines read: “Call to us now and we shall awaken/We shall arise at the sound of our name.”
The first pilgrim to La Salette was the Blessed Virgin. She called two children to herself. That was the beginning. Since then, many hundreds of thousands have walked the mountain paths or driven the steep and winding roads so as to stand where she stood, and hear her words in the very place where she spoke.
Here the words of the second reading take on a new resonance: “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.”
The first line of the hymn we have quoted is: “Here in this place new light is streaming.” How could we not think of the light emanating from the Beautiful Lady’s crucifix? La Salette Laity, Missionaries, and Sisters in all the world can reflect that light, gathering others in.
Wayne Vanasse, and Fr. René Butler, M.S.