August 21, 2016 — Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
IS 66: 18-21; PS 117: 1-2; HEB 12: 5-7, 11-13; LK 13: 22-30
“For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last” (Luke 13:30). With those words Jesus makes it clear to us that there are no lines, no privileges in heaven.
Today’s Gospel from the Book of Luke — in fact all of our readings for today, this 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time — have to do with salvation. It is difficult to be faithful and Catholic without thinking about heaven on occasion, and the Lord and St. Paul often in his letters, remind us over and over that we are to be striving for that — that our thoughts should be as much on the next life as on this one. Yet when we hear that Gospel that the first will be last and the last will be first, we may think there is some lack of justice there.
Jesus does not state this as a definite. He actually is telling us that the first may be last and the last may be first. The truth is that it really is not important. Our faith, the Lord, our sense of stewardship repeatedly remind us that what we think is important on earth may not be important in heaven at all. There is a Greek proverb that says, “Being first is good, but being last is perfect.” We are all called to discipleship and we need to answer that call. Responding before someone else does not make us better, but responding is very important.