Monday, August 23, 2010

21st Sunday - homily

We hear much about “nations” in today’s readings, especially the first reading. Nation is important to all of us. A nation is where we are from. It helps form our identity as people. We identify as people of a nation and can legitimately take pride in being from a particular nation. The word nation has also arisen in pop culture, mainly with regard to sports teams. There’s “Redsox nation”, “Redskins nation” (my personal favorite…go Redskins!), and a ton of others. It seems to indicate a large number of fans or followers for a particular team. It’s almost as if the team is the preeminent team in our nation; like, it’s America’s team. And, people of, let’s say Redskins nation, really let others know that they are a part of Redskins nation. You see it on their cars, in their homes, on their clothing. They are proud to be an active part of Redskins nation and let everyone know it.

What if there was “God nation”? Would we be a part of it? If we could only choose one “nation” to be a part of, would it be God nation? Would we choose God nation over Redskins nation? Specifically, God nation refers to Israel. They are the first nation, the first people, who are invited into covenant with God. Jesus teaches about “the first” and “the last” in today’s Gospel. Israel is “the first”; they are the first chosen people. But, even some of the first aren’t active in God nation; they’re not big fans of the Lord, especially the Christ. So, they become the last. Then, “the last” are people of all the nations. Christ extends the covenant to all nations. Some in the last become big fans of God, especially the Christ, and become the first.

So, are we among the first or the last? Are we big fans of God? Do people know that we are a part of God nation? Do they see it on our cars, in our homes, or in our clothing? Do they see it in the way we live? Does God know we are a part of God nation? (We can’t fool God.) When I talk about being a part of God nation, I don’t mean being a fair-weather fan. I mean being a faithful follower of His, through thick and thin…through the good times and bad. Imagine if someone had left Redskins nation a while ago because they were so bad (as many people have). And let’s say, the Redskins win the Super Bowl sometime soon (a priest can dream, can’t he?). If those same people come back to Redskins nation at about that time, the rest of us will be like, “who are you? We don’t know where you’re from.”

It’s the same with God. We can’t be a fair-weather fan of God’s. We aren’t followers of His only when times are good or when we need something. We are with Him through thick and thin…good times and bad. To be a part of God nation means to be faithful to Him and to let everyone know we are followers of His, mainly in the way we live. If we aren’t, then we will be among the last.

Based on today’s Gospel, that means that we would be among those who are invited, but not chosen. Jesus is asked about those who will be saved. He then makes a distinction between the first and the last. “The first” are those who will eat at table in the Kingdom of God. “The last” refers to those who are not saved. He would say to them “I don’t know where you are from” and “depart from me”. He also speaks of “wailing and grinding of teeth” which refers to punishment, most commonly eternal damnation. Can you imagine trying to get into Heaven and hearing God say to you, “I don’t know where you’re from”. In other words, I don’t know you. I don’t know which nation you are from. You were invited to be a part of my nation, but you chose to be a part of another nation…another team.

Finally, the best way for us to be among the first - the chosen, those who are saved – is the Eucharist. When we come to the Eucharist, we are those “from the east and the west and from the north and the south..(who) recline at table in the Kingdom of God”. And, in John 6, Jesus promises that anyone who receives the Eucharist “has eternal life”. May the Grace of the Eucharist give us the courage and strength to out God first…to be among the first…to let everyone know that we are faithful fans and followers of Jesus Christ.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Those of us who are Redskins fans are among the last. :(