Readings: Isaiah 16:18-21; Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13; Luke 13:22-30
You probably don’t need me to tell you that Jesus’ response to the question, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” is no answer at all.
Jesus isn’t being evasive. This is, rather, a dynamic we often find in John’s Gospel, as well as a few times in Luke’s Gospel: the question misses the mark and Jesus’ response redirects us to a question that should have been asked.
Whether this question arises from the rabbinic debate that all of Israel will be corporately saved or just the better part of God’s Chosen People; or whether the question arises from an individual’s fear, Jesus’ response is rather clear. In effect, he says: why are you preoccupied with statistics and probabilities? The Kingdom of God is not about demographics, be they broad and indiscriminate or narrow and elitist. The Kingdom of God is neither an inner-city project nor a gated community.
I have no control over someone else’s life. I should busy myself with my own life and responsibilities and responses to the people with whom I share this life! So this isn’t just a matter between me and God. This is not a question of saving my hide but the question of my response to God and the world around me.
Not to judge or condemn or contrast myself with other people does not mean that I cut off other people. Jesus tells me that I must expand my horizons to embrace an unimaginably broad company: and people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the Kingdom of God. For behold, some are last who will be first and some are first who will be last.
Have I boxed in God or God’s saving work? Have I placed my prejudices and my comfort-zone on God’s throne? Is God no more to me than my preferences written large? Am I ready to accept God’s Kingdom in all its unpredictable, sovereign majesty, in all its creative diversity? Must I always customize God’s will to what is familiar and appealing to me?
Why can’t I let go and let God enrich me and stretch me to a goodness I can’t even imagine?