Eph 6:1-9; Ps 145:10-14; Lk 13:22-30 : With every generation of believers we join in praying today’s Responsorial Psalm. We are among those who are falling; we are among those who are bowed down. Yet, the LORD is faithful, and we are lifted up and we are raised on high. Everything that the Scriptures have revealed about the LORD and his mighty works has been for our blessing. The LORD constantly and consistently reveals his merciful faithfulness and his loving kindness. Indeed, we join with all creatures of our God and King to give thanks and to bless his Holy Name. We join in the universal discourse of the glory of the Kingdom of God, and we cannot stop speaking of his might, so amazing is the LORD. The glory of his Kingdom is the beauty all around and deep within. We behold the face of God in his beloved children, and we rejoice. We behold the wonder of all his creation, and we delight in the wonder of our being. Such abundant blessings, such wholehearted praise, enables us to make known to all men, women, and children the might and glorious splendor of the Kingdom of God. Our witness is unstoppable; before we even open our mouths, we give glad testimony in the glow of his love that transforms our face and our walk and our very presence. Indeed, this Kingdom is for all people of every time and place. Everyone is welcome home to the bosom of the Father. The witness of our being raised up and lifted out of our sin and despair is the testimony that invites and beckons the many, who are not yet strong enough, to recline at table with all who have found their strength in Christ. Indeed our Master in heaven has no partiality. Our Master provides everyone with all that is needed to grow in strength and to obey him in love.
Obedience always bears a blessing. Sometimes it cannot be seen at the moment of self-sacrifice, but there is a blessing yet to come. The blessing of obedience is “long life on earth.” Our years are shortened by our anxiety and guilt; we hurt ourselves by rejecting the authority of our parents. The damage to our own self-image is greater if our rejection is violent and constant. Self-assertion bears its own fruit as well. The fruit of self centered attitudes and behaviors are isolation and disconnection with our origins, our past, and our very selves. The wisdom of Saint Paul in this letter to the Ephesians is not time-bound. It can be nourishment for our souls as well. Certainly the authority of Fathers should be based on love rather than fear. Our fathers have a unique and priceless part to play in our training and instruction in the Lord. At the time of Saint Paul the institution of slavery was still socially acceptable and even supported by the laws of the Roman Empire. He did not stand up to the might of the empire and protest. Saint Paul did not encourage his converts to lobby for the demise of slavery. He did not preach against the injustice and inherent evil of enslaving another human being. However, Saint Paul did hold up to slave and slave master the relationship between every believer and the Only True Master, Jesus the Christ. Indeed, we are to respect and even love those set over us justly and unjustly. It is by our love and respect that the hearts of our leaders or oppressors will be changed and challenged. Those who have power and authority in society or in the family must use such a position for serving the Master, who is present in the very people over whom we have been placed. It is just such a liberating forgiveness and loving service that chips away at unjust social institutions and eventually destroys them completely. This is the power of the revolution that the Lord Jesus has brought into human history. This Lord and Master will come to reign supreme and eternal, and with him there is no partiality.
The Lord Jesus is humble and obedient in the gospel today; he is teaching and making his way to Jerusalem. There in the holy city the Lord Jesus will teach with his passion, death, and resurrection what obedience really means. It means self-denial, self-surrender, and self-donation. He, the co-eternal Son of the Father, has come to teach us what we need to know to be saved, redeemed, and sanctified. We must enter through the narrow gate, where no overloaded ego can pass through. We must do more than attend mass and receive the sacraments. It’s not enough to eat and drink in his company; even listening to his teaching is not enough. We must become one with the Lord Jesus. We must give ourselves to the Father in loving obedience by taking up our cross and following the Lord Jesus. Union with Christ, total and complete, is the only way to pass through the narrow way. If we do not discipline ourselves in this world, we will need to be purified after we die so that we can dance for joy before the throne of God and of the Lamb. We may be last, but he will make us first. We may think we are first, but he will make us last. What matters is that we join Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God. There we will gladly embrace our holy company from east, west, north and south. All, who have been lifted up and raised on high because they have traveled through the narrow gate of the Cross of Christ, will be our companions at the banquet of the King. Indeed, he already gives himself to us in this Eucharist and summons us to give ourselves to him, just for the shear delight of it!