Aug 25, 2019 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 IS 66:18-21

Responsorial Psalm PS 117:1, 2

R.(Mk 16:15) Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.

Reading 2 HEB 12:5-7, 11-13

Alleluia JN 14:6

  1. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 13:22-30

Homily for Nativity on the Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time   

Thanks for being here to worship God on this beautiful last weekend before school starts. With that start comes the start of several sports seasons. The other day I was talking to my friend who is a football coach at Wahlert and he asked if I was going to address the players at some point.  I told him, I don’t know, but I know what I’d say, “The pain of discipline is much less than the pain of regret.” 

When I was playing football in High School, playing under the lights on Friday night, I took it for granted, I didn’t realize how awesome that experience was and how athletically I’d probably never experience anything like it again. 

 With baseball, I can still play softball leagues; with basketball, I can still play in charity games, but with football there really isn’t that same chance to put all the pads on and go play under those Friday night lights again. 

And now, as an adult, I regret not working harder while I had the chance, not being more disciplined in the weight room especially.  My friend appreciated these sentiments, especially because he is the strength and conditioning coach at Wahlert, but I couldn’t help thinking about this conversation and how the pain of discipline relates to today's readings. 

In the Gospel, Jesus was asked, "Lord, will only a few people be saved?" He answered them, "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. 

We must Strive to enter through the narrow gate, we cannot take our opportunities for granted, we must work hard, we must be disciplined, we must strengthen our bodies and, more importantly, our souls so that we can enter the Kingdom of Heaven. 

But how much do we need to do?  How much would I have to do to enter into the narrow gate?  I don’t care if I am first or last, I just want to get in, somewhere in the middle, before the door is locked, ya know?  How much will that take? 

Well Jesus doesn’t specify how much, but listen to what he does say when people asked Him to open the door. He will say to you in reply, 'I do not know where you are from. And you will say, 'We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.' Then he will say to you, 'I do not know where you are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!' 

Two keys there, the people say they know Jesus, but Jesus did not seem to know them… they must not have acknowledged Him, or made the effort to talk to Him, or somehow they separated themselves from Him at some point.

 How are we separated from Jesus?  It is through sin that we separate ourselves, and Jesus says as much, “Depart from me, all you evildoers!”  So Jesus is not saying that we need to do a lot of good works, he is not giving us a task list to punch our ticket into that narrow gate, but He is saying essentially, “stay close to me by keeping free from evil and sin and you will be welcomed into the Kingdom.”


The evildoers in this story were full of regret.  In context, the evildoers were the Jews who had heard Jesus teach in their streets, preaching a message of repentance from sins, but they went on living in their sins, thinking they would be saved just because they were Jews, because they were the “chosen ones,'' because they were “good” and did the bare minimum by following the law.  

They were the first called, but since they didn’t acknowledge Jesus and repent like He asked, they would now be last. 

I believe that many people today will be full of regret when they approach the kingdom of God and God will not open the door for them. They’ll say, “I went to Mass every Sunday, wasn’t that enough?” Or, “I went to Catholic School and did enough good works, it should be enough.” Or, “God, I thought you were merciful and loved everyone despite our sins, that should be enough.” 

God does love everyone, He wants everyone to be saved, but we are not saved by a one time event or by doing many good works, we are saved by the blood of Jesus which frees us from our sins, but we have to want that forgiveness... 

So God expects us to ask for that forgiveness, and then go and sin no more -- to be disciplined, for the pain of discipline is much less than the pain of regret. We have to keep turning back to him and away from our sins. That is how we grow strong enough to enter through the narrow gate. 

The second reading said, “God treats you as sons. For what "son" is there whom his father does not discipline? At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.” 

Every father or mother here has, or has had, expectations of their sons and daughters, like cleaning their rooms and cleaning the house.  

From today's readings, it seems that God’s biggest expectation is that we keep our souls clean, that we stay close to Jesus, and when we fall into sin, we go to confession, we visit the Sacrament of Reconciliation and repair that relationship, so “that what is lame may not be disjointed but healed.” 

From that relationship with Jesus, from the gratitude we have for being healed, springs our desire to do good works and to avoid evil in the future.  "Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future." (- Oscar Wilde) 

Take confidence that God loves us, He wants us to strive to enter the narrow gate, He wants us to repent while we still have the chance.  To that end, the Church asks us to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation once a year.  Could you imagine if parents only asked their children to clean their rooms once a year?  But thats all mother Church asks of us, once a year.  

If you haven’t been to confession in over a year, don’t wait for Advent or Lent, find a time as soon as possible.  Like the Friday night football lights, don’t take the availability of the sacrament for granted, don’t leave room for regret.  Yes, it might be painful to go, like discipline from a parent, and there will be a penance to complete which might not be fun either. 

The Good News is, when we are being disciplined from the Lord, it means we are being acknowledged by Him, and so we can have a sure and certain hope that He will also acknowledge us in Heaven when we arrive at the narrow gate. 

So take heart from the second reading, "My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord or lose heart when reproved by him; for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines; he scourges every son he acknowledges."  

I pray that we always recognize God’s love for us as His children, never hesitating to go to Him for forgiveness, and staying disciplined in avoidance of sin in order to do His will. The pain of discipline is much less than the pain of regret.

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