Saturday, August 27, 2016

Twenty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle C

Welcome to read homilies for the Sundays of the year. These are sample homilies which you can read with devotion. You may use them in your own homilies without asking my permission. You may also change or edit these to fit them to your audience. A unique quality of these homilies is that they are Christ-filled. From beginning to end they present to us some aspect of Jesus so that beholding his glory we “are being transformed from glory to glory into his very image” (2 Corinthians 3:18 NAB).

The Gate Ajar for Me

I borrowed the title of this homily from Lydia Baxter who wrote the song The Gate Ajar for Me. This song has led very many persons to a deeper, more intimate friendship with Jesus. It begins this way:
There is a gate that stands ajar,
And through its portals gleaming
A radiance from the cross afar,
The Savior’s love revealing.

Lydia Baxter was a Christian songwriter in the 19th century who lived many years of her life as an invalid. Her poem tells us that the gate of heaven is ajar, that is, it is open a little bit such that we can see the gleam of glory of the cross from inside that heaven revealing Jesus’ love for us.

Our Gospel reading today tells us that Jesus left the gate of heaven ajar so that we can see a little bit of what is inside heaven. Our Gospel text ends this way: “When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.

Jesus addressed this statement, as Luke tells us, to the host who invited him for dinner. This statement tells us that there is a time or a moment when there will be a resurrection of the righteous and in that time or moment the host of Jesus will be repaid for giving a banquet to the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind.

This statement of Jesus does not only tell us about this moment of time of repayment. It also tells us that there is a place where this repayment will be done. This place has a gate but Jesus has left the gate ajar, that is, a little bit so that we can see a bit of what is inside.

We see through this gate ajar that the ones living in that place are righteous who have been resurrected. It also tells us that they are repaid for what they did on earth for which they were not repaid then and there.

Our second reading makes this clearer. It says, ". . . you have approached Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and countless angels in festal gathering, and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven, and God the judge of all, and the spirits of the just made perfect, and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and the sprinkled blood that speaks more eloquently than that of Abel."

Our second reading tells us that this place referred to by Jesus where the righteous will be repaid is "the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem" where countless angels, spirits of the just made perfect, God and Jesus dwell.

We see so many persons in this other place which Jesus talks about, where the resurrected righteous are repaid for work unpaid on earth. We see this through a gate ajar. Jesus left a small opening of this gate so that we can see what is inside that place. The second reading is more explicit. We see there the inside of the city of the living God, countless angels, perfect spirits, God and Jesus himself.

At least for now we see one person there who is righteous and resurrected, Jesus himself. And he lives within and through us. As we continue to live each day with him he reveals to us more and more what is inside that city of the living God.

Our responsorial psalm tells us that that city is our home. There we see  "the just rejoice and exult before God; they are glad and rejoice." And the Spirit of Jesus exhorts us: "Sing to God, chant praise to his name; whose name is the LORD."

That is our glory as Christians. We can see already through this gate ajar our home after our earthly home, we can see those inside that home, we can also see what is happening inside there.

When we finish our task on earth, our final home awaits us, most ready and most happy to welcome us. Thanks to Jesus who left the gate ajar and lives in us and through us making sure that we safely arrive there.

Let us bow our heads in prayer.

Jesus, thank you for leaving the gate of heaven ajar so that we can see a bit of what is inside your home which will also be our home with you. And thank you for your servant Lydia Baxter who two centuries ago wrote about this gate which you left ajar for us. Amen.

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Note for the readers:

The Mass readings are from the New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE). This is where our Lectionary gets the readings.

NAB stands for New American Bible (before it was revised).

AV stands for Authorized Version of the Bible. It is more commonly referred to as the King James Bible. It is the version most used in English literature, therefore it is the one known more by the English speaking world.

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