Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
(Isaiah 66:18-21; Psalm 117:1-2; Hebrews 12:5-7,11-13; Luke 13:22-30)
The Importance of Seeking First the Kingdom of God
Lord, will only a few people be saved?” (Luke 13:23)
These are perhaps the scariest words in Scripture. Embedded within this fellow’s question is the fear that many will not be saved—will end up in hell. Now hell is a miserable, lonely place devoid of all love. So how should we think about these words? Are we to walk around in fear, constantly worrying if we are among the many or the few?
No. In his answer, Jesus shifts the focus from a general question to a specific one. He is not interested in addressing this man’s curiosity or in giving population statistics of heaven and hell. Instead he says that every person should do everything possible to make sure he or she is among the “saved.” Then he tells how: “Strive to enter through the narrow door” (Luke 13:24). Yes, we are saved by faith. But our faith must be backed up by our actions. We still have to strive to enter heaven.
Striving is not wishful thinking. It’s not a vague hope. It’s not something we take care of in our spare time. No, striving to enter heaven should be the top priority of our lives. It’s what we “seek first” above everything else (Matthew 6:33).
Striving has to do with contending, putting forth a great effort, even pushing through some agonizing moments. A person who strives protects every time of prayer, stays focused on Jesus during every Mass, and does everything possible to care for the poor and needy. She or he has one goal in mind: to win the prize of heaven. Nothing takes precedence over that goal.
Jesus also told his followers that heaven is not a foregone conclusion. He says, in fact, that some people will be surprised to find that they don’t sail right through the pearly gates (Luke 13:25-27). But he does promise that everyone who believes in him, follows him, and bears fruit for him will find the way. And those are hopeful words indeed.
“Jesus, I want to be with you forever. Please keep me on the pathway to salvation.”
(Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing us to use meditations from their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission. The Word Among Us Mass Edition contains all the readings and a meditation for each of the daily and Sunday Masses.)
Sunday, August 25, 2013
Questions for Reflection/Discussion
- In the first reading, we hear these words spoken by the Lord, “I come to gather nations of every language; they shall come and see my glory.” Even if we are not able to be missionaries in a foreign land, we can still pray for countries where the Gospel cannot be preached and Christians are persecuted. Who are some countries that are in desperate need of hearing the Gospel preached and seeing the glory of the Lord? Are you willing to spend time on a regular basis praying for them? If not, why not?
- In the Responsorial Psalm, the response is “Go out to all the world and tell the good news.” What are some new steps you can take to tell the good news of Jesus Christ to those who need to hear it, especially your family, coworkers, neighbors, or friends?
- The second reading speaks of the disciplining and scourging of the Lord to those he loves and are his sons (and daughters). How does knowing that you are loved, and a son or daughter of your heavenly Father, make a difference to you when experiencing the Lord’s purifying work in your life?
- In the Gospel reading, what message do you think the Lord was trying to convey in the parable when the master of the house says, “I do not know where you are from”? How would you contrast these words with the words in the parable in Matthew 25:21,23 when the master of the house says, “Well done my good and faithful servant”? What caused the difference between these responses? What are some additional steps you can take that will help you to be a good and faithful servant?
- It has been said that when Catholics are asked the question, “Do you believe you are going to Heaven?” the typical answer is “I hope so.” The meditation does encourage us to remember that the Lord does “promise that everyone who believes in him, follows him, and bears fruit for him will find the way (to heaven). And those are hopeful words indeed.” By the way, how would you answer this question?
- Take some time now to pray and ask the Lord for the grace to “know, love, and serve” Him. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as a starting point.