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21st Sunday in Ordinary Time — Aug. 21, 2022

Bishop’s Reflections

August 21, 2022

Every Sunday, Bishop Edward Malesic writes a Scripture reflection for the faithful. Follow the bishop on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Click HERE for the readings.

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time — Aug. 21, 2022

The disciples asked Jesus, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?”

The question of salvation is an important one. We want to know who will be taken up to Heaven and who will not.

Jesus never answered the question of his disciples directly. He didn’t give a number or a percentage of those who will be saved, although he eventually talked about the universal offer of salvation, with people coming from all four corners of the earth to recline at the table of God’s reign. It is possible for all persons to be saved, but God will not force salvation on anyone. We must make the decision for ourselves to accept God’s invitation of salvation or not. Jesus said, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.” The narrow gate is Jesus. He said, “I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture” (John 10:9). This is our faith: Jesus is required for anyone to be admitted to Heaven.

Jesus added that a casual relationship with him is not enough. He gave an example in today’s parable of the master of a house who did not open the locked door to those who did not really know him, even though they were outside trying to get in by saying, “We ate and drank in your company, and you taught in our streets.” Just rubbing elbows with Jesus does not cut it. As an example, wearing a cross around one’s neck is not enough if we have not embraced the cross of Christ. Going to Sunday Mass is not enough if we don’t really enter into its mystery enough to change us when we leave for the rest of the week.

No, it is by desiring and seeking to have an abiding faith in Jesus, not a casual acquaintance with him, that he opens the door to us.

Which then begs the question, what about those who are not Christian, or those baptized but never really taught about Jesus, or those Christian members who have been pushed away from Jesus by the sinfulness of members of the Church? Our Church has said that “Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience — those too may achieve salvation” (Lumen gentium, 337). But even this salvation comes only through Christ himself. That is why we continue to proclaim Jesus as the only savior of the world and invite others to have faith in him — from all four corners of the earth.

By not directly answering the question of who will or will not be saved and adding a parable about needing to know the master in a personal way, perhaps Jesus wanted us to focus on our own relationship with him. While we should be concerned about and work for the salvation of others, we must first work on ourselves. In the words of Saint Paul, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12).

Have a blessed week everyone.

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