Word Columns for Sunday August 26

This Sunday is the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time. Fr. Daniel Harrington writes about the notion of universalism, which was often debated by the Jewish leaders of Jesus’ time: "As a theological doctrine, universalism claims that all of us will be saved, or restored to holiness and happiness. The biblical version of universalism is more complicated. It says that while God wants us all to be saved, we all must work at finding a place in God’s kingdom." Dianne Bergant (2004) reflects that the idea of universalism was quite revolutionary, and hard to accept for some: "Surprising as it may seem, one of the most unsettling of the divine characteristics is God’s universal concern for the people of the world. The very earliest traditions of Israel reveal the concept of a patron God who led a chosen people, protected them and blessed them with peace and prosperity. But this God was considered the special patron of Israel, not of the entire world. The other nations had their own gods to care for them." Fr. John Donahue (2001) ponders ponders the image of the narrow gate: "The Gospel presents a paradox of exclusion and inclusion. Neither familiarity with Jesus nor membership in a chosen people assures admittance to the banquet, and yet Jesus includes a small remnant who enter by the narrow gate, perhaps bowed down and straggling in the procession (the last shall be first). This recalls both Mary’s hymn that the lowly will be exalted and Simeon’s prediction that "this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel" (Lk. 2:34)..." Remember, our open house ends next week. To continue to have full access to our Word columns, sign up for our special $12 offer. Tim Reidy, Online Editor

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