August 21, 2016
IS 66:18-21 PS 117:1, 2 HEB 12:5-7, 11-13 LK 13:22-30
LK 13:30 – “For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”
Christ’s words refers to the Gentiles, in that they will hear the Gospel after the Jews, and come to believe before those to whom Jesus was sent – thus being “last”, as compared to the Jews being “first”. That’s the common interpretation, given the context.
But this wasn’t the only time in the Gospels where Jesus spoke of the last being first, and there’s another way of looking at these words. I’ll let Servant of God Madeleine Delbrel explain (I really love her).
“The Gospel parables are not mere poetry. Those “last” people who are to be first are not just “last” people in some realm of fantasy. Nor are they our kind of “last” people, those who constantly give of themselves and devote themselves to causes. No. These are those people men treat as “last” people without consulting them about it. They are people who have to ask others for everything because they have none of the resources that allow a person to have something. These are people who are given the characteristic of being “last” by other people.”
“…given the characteristic of being “last” by other people.”
That happens quite a bit on Catholic blogs – other Catholics aren’t Catholic enough; aren’t pro-life enough; aren’t liberal enough; aren’t conservative enough; don’t criticize Pope Francis enough or don’t support him enough; don’t pray the right prayers; don’t attend the right Mass; don’t read the right bloggers; don’t do enough of this, that, or the other…and on and on and on.
Too much making others “last”.
I’ve been guilty of it. Heck, I can’t count how many times I’ve described others as “Catholyc” all these years of blogging. I got quite good at it. But for what? Oh sure, I could argue I was focused on defending Church doctrine. I could also argue I wasn’t judging people’s souls, but there’s a fine line between removing the speck in my brother’s eye, and poking him in the eye just to make a point, or make a joke.
As Catholics, we are held to higher standards. The world makes others “last” well enough as it is, employing a litany of false reasons and comparisons. Not rich enough. Not educated enough. Not perfect enough. Not privileged enough. Holding wrong opinions. Taking wrong sides. Born the wrong skin color. And so on and so forth. Our job is to share the Good News, so that those who are last in the world’s eyes, will come to see that they are first in God’s.
I think all of us will be surprised when, on the Day of Judgment, we discover who will be last, and who will be first. If we’re over-confident on where we’ll stand, we may be more than merely surprised. We may be the ones outside, pounding on the door and seeking admission, only to hear Christ say “I do not know where you are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!”
Hard words to hear, but better to hear them as an admonition now, than as a condemnation later.