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Today’s Scripture Reflection

Creighton U. Daily Reflection

August 25, 2019
by Mike Cherney
Creighton University's Physics Department
click here for photo and information about the writer

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 123

Isaiah 66:18-21
Palms 117:1, 2
Hebrew 12:5-7, 11-13
Luke 13:22-30

Praying Ordinary Time

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I see today’s readings focusing on the spread of the message beyond its initial audience. In the passage from Isaiah, God calls his people together, promises them a sign, and then expects individuals to go out and share the message of His glory. The Psalm refrain is a call to tell the Good News of the Lord. Paul’s letter to the Hebrews encourages one to view suffering and challenges as personal development. The Gospel implies that salvation is not guaranteed and is not limited to first to receive an invitation.

I read this collection of passages as emphasizing the breadth of God’s welcoming call. Salvation History is not limited to the people of Zion. The problems that Paul encounters frequently grow out of the lack of Jesus’ acceptance within his own people and their institutions. The Gospel seems to make the point that the first (Jesus’ own people) may fail to get what the last invited (the Gentiles) may receive.

A loving God who is eager to expand the fold may not have been the easiest message which a prophet might bring. I think that many of us enjoy being special. I am ashamed to say that I have caught myself feeling better because I have things that others do not. Opening up the God’s kingdom to outsiders may not have been something that was welcome in the first century and my sense is that it is not universally welcome now. I often wonder how I would have reacted as a Jew during Jesus’ lifetime. Religious leaders had a certain amount of autonomy under the Roman prefect. I can see both Jesus and Paul running up against the institutional authorities. Their message called for change and reform. I can imagine how Jesus and Paul were characterized. I think that I can safely assume that varying narratives are not unique to today’s point in time. My prayer today is for openness and wise discernment.

Dear Lord,
Heal me from desires to have what some do not.
Help me to want what is good for all people.
Open my ears and my heart
so that I might be able to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Give me the strength and courage to live the life to which I am called.

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mcherney@creighton.edu

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