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Kerry WeberOctober 26, 2022
Sunlight peeking through clouds over the ocean.Photo from Unsplash.

A Reflection for Wednesday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

Find today’s readings here.

And people will come from the east and the west
and from the north and the south
and will recline at table in the Kingdom of God.
For behold, some are last who will be first,
and some are first who will be last.” (Lk 13:29-30)

In Flannery O’Connor’s short story “Revelation,” the main character, Mrs. Turpin, lives a life she feels is enviable, but to many outsiders (the reader included), it appears fraught with judgment, contempt and racism. Believing herself to exhibit the opposite of such terrible qualities, she is shocked at the end of the story when she receives a vision in which “a vast horde of souls were tumbling toward heaven” and there, at the very end of a line of “battalions of freaks and lunatics shouting and clapping and leaping like frogs” are people “like herself.” Rather than lead the way into heaven, as she always assumed she would, people like Mrs. Turpin are marching in last while “even their virtues were being burned away.”

We must recall that our earthly time is limited, and it is better to spend it preparing the way of the Lord than judging others who are just trying to do the same.

I thought of this scene while reading today’s Gospel, which reminds us of both the urgency and the topsy-turvy nature of the Gospel message. Part of the beauty of our faith is the knowledge that we are loved by God, and that we do not need to do anything to earn that love. But we must never forget that it can take great effort to live out what that love asks of us. We must recall that our earthly time is limited, and it is better to spend it preparing the way of the Lord than judging others who are just trying to do the same.

As we seek to build the kingdom of God on earth and to reach it in heaven, we must not do so because we think it will take us to the front of that line, but because we know that it is enough to want to be in that line at all. We remember the Gospel call to “strive to enter through the narrow gate,” but we do so not to distinguish ourselves as above the rest, but rather to unite ourselves with all those also lining up to enter, all of us flawed, all of us failing, all of us yearning to be closer to Christ.

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