Reflection: Twenty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m.

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

Bible study/sharing every Saturday (2:00-4:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church, 5 Leicester Place WC2H 7BX (near See Woo Chinese Supermarket, Leicester Square tube station)

Talk and discussion meeting First Tuesday of every month (4:00-6:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church


[1st Reading – Is.66:18-21; Ps.116; 2nd Reading – Heb.12:5-7,11-13; Gospel – Lk.13:22-30]


In today’s gospel, it seems that there is a quantitative theme where Jesus talks about the number of those who will be saved.  It all started when “someone” put forth a question to Jesus. It is an unknown person who raised the “theme” which prompted Jesus to speak about those “many” who “try to enter” through the narrow door but “will not succeed” and therefore fail.

Although Jesus spoke about the narrow door, he seemed to have other things in his mind.  Things which he wanted to convey to those who were listening to him. It is not so much the number of those who manage to enter through this narrow door (be they many or just a few) rather, it is the manner in which one manages to enter through this door seems to interest Jesus. What can one do to be one of those few who do pass to the other side of the door? To answer this question, Jesus presents the example of the master of the house: who gets up and locks the door, because of which some find themselves locked out. Despite their insistence and claim that they “ate and drank” in his company, the answer which the master of the house gives would still be “I do not know where you come from. Away from me, all you wicked men!” and the master of the house seems to refuse to recognise them at all. Why?

If we continue with the gospel reading, we discover that Jesus puts two opposites together. On one hand there is Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and all the prophets “in the kingdom of God”. On the other hand there are those who are “turned outside”. Furthermore Jesus places together with Abraham and the rest, other “men from east and west, from north and south…” and (to add insult to injury) he also addresses his interlocutors (i.e. those plotting his downfall) as being associated with those who will find themselves locked out! What is the message being conveyed here?

Jesus is saying that: it is not enough to have eaten and to have drank in the company of Jesus … it is not enough to have encountered the teachings of Jesus … What is important (and “enough”) is that one stays continuously in his company; that one stays with Jesus!  If those people in the story (who were locked out) were in the company of the Master of the house when he got up to lock the door, they would have found themselves locked in the house and not out!!! And therefore when he tells them to stay away from him, he tells them to continue to do what they were already doing – i.e. to be away from his company – and that is why Jesus called them “wicked”. If they chose to be away from him, then in return Jesus will refuse to recognise even their origin (i.e. he refuses to recognise Abraham’s fatherhood in them!). Alternatively, if they are ready to follow in the footsteps of Abraham (their father in faith), Isaac and Jacob then they will “be saved”.

Jesus is trying to tell us the same thing. He is inviting us to check if we are making our way to enter through the narrow door too. Although we frequent the Eucharist (i.e. we eat and drink with him) and we may have also encountered his teaching… but… are we striving to be continuously in his company? It depends on us if we truly want to pass through that narrow door or not!

Lord, we hear your word quite often and we do accept your invitation for us to come to your banquet, during which we eat and drink with you. Give us the opportunity to be able to “continuously” be in your company and presence as much as possible. Thank you Lord!


Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo )

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