Memory of the Saints and the Prophets

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people acquired by God
to proclaim his marvellous works.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Luke 13, 22-30

Through towns and villages he went teaching, making his way to Jerusalem.

Someone said to him, 'Sir, will there be only a few saved?' He said to them,

'Try your hardest to enter by the narrow door, because, I tell you, many will try to enter and will not succeed.

'Once the master of the house has got up and locked the door, you may find yourself standing outside knocking on the door, saying, "Lord, open to us," but he will answer, "I do not know where you come from."

Then you will start saying, "We once ate and drank in your company; you taught in our streets,"

but he will reply, "I do not know where you come from; away from me, all evil doers!"

'Then there will be weeping and grinding of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrown out.

And people from east and west, from north and south, will come and sit down at the feast in the kingdom of God.

'Look, there are those now last who will be first, and those now first who will be last.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You will be holy,
because I am holy, thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Gospel passage opens emphasizing Jesus teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Jesus does not walk among people without looking at the people he meets, perhaps to focus on himself or on his personal problems. Jesus has a goal, Jerusalem, but he goes there not only for himself. He goes to die in the Holy City because he wants all to be saved. Indeed, it is not he who needs salvation, but men and women. In this context, it is important the question that a person asks Jesus about the number of those who are saved. The interlocutor reports the concerns that arose at that time about the number of the saved as some of the rabbis excluded from salvation those who did not comply with certain provisions. In this way one doubted that the entire people of Israel would be saved. In an apocryphal Jewish text, for example, we can read: “The Almighty has done this century for many, the future instead for a few” (fourth book of Ezra). Jesus instead says that we do not enter into the kingdom of God merely belonging to the people of Israel, or a nation or an ethnic group or culture, and so on. It is faith that saves; it is the acceptance of Jesus as their saviour that delivers us from the slaveries of the world. Therefore, the choice that the disciple performs in front of the Master’s call is decisive. Jesus does not directly answer the question about the number of the saved. He just says that now is the time of choosing. It is on this choice that there will be judgment. And when the day of judgment will come, claims of belonging to a people or to have participated in religious rites will be of no use. Indeed - Jesus adds, “Then people will come from east and west, from north and south, and will eat in the kingdom of God.” What matters is to choose immediately to follow the Lord, before it is too late. This is the meaning of the image of the narrow door: in front of the preaching of the Gospel, we cannot postpone listening to it, we cannot extend the time for choice. There is no time to lose. If the Gospel is rejected, it is like reaching the house mentioned in the Gospel passage when the master has already closed the door. It will be too late. We need to be careful and vigilant whenever the Gospel is proclaimed; on this Word depends our salvation. Those who remain outside, who do not listen, will remain at the mercy of the prince of evil and will feel the bite of the cold of sadness and the bitterness of loneliness. Jesus’ statement about those “last” who will be first - the text refers to the Gentiles - emphasizes the “primacy” of listening: those who accept the Gospel in their heart and put it into practice become the first in the kingdom of heaven.