TWENTY-FIRST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Also Read: Mass Readings for 21 August 2022 Mass Reading Reflection for 21 August 2022
Gospel: Luke 13: 22-30
Compromise is a word hardly present in the dictionary of Jesus. Today’s gospel makes us all worried; we live in a world that strongly encourages compromise.
Do we really belong to Jesus or do we just appear to be with him? It is a pity that many seem contended to appear to walk with Jesus rather than being really close to Jesus; because it takes a lot more courage to be really close to Jesus. We need to be really strong to stay put; Jesus is categorical about that in the gospel when he says, “many will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.” Indeed, many that embarked upon the road with Jesus had long left him although they appear to walk with him. It is a dreadful possibility. It is a deadly reality.
On the other hand, many who seemed to be foreign to Jesus shall prove to be close to Jesus. They shall join the heavenly Jerusalem with their finest offerings as the first reading suggests (Is 66, 18-21). Yes, there is hope for everyone. Jesus wants to include as much as possible, provided we prove strong enough to stay with him until the end. He is looking forward to those who are ready to fight till the end, without being preoccupied with the outcome; because Jesus is the one who grants the victory, not our battling skills. There are many such surprises that walk among us, who decided to stay with Jesus, caring little about what it costs.
People in showbiz are not known to stay close to Jesus. He is a liability to those who want to achieve higher in places like Hollywood; it is no more a secret. Yet, it is heartening to know that there are at least a few that continue to fight. They fight at the cost of creamy roles, big money, and fame. There are people who place Jesus above Hollywood success.
Jim Caviezel, who played the role of Jesus in the movie ‘Passion of Christ’ is apparently one. Mel Gibson who contacted Jim offering the lead role, called him again within 20 minutes, warning him of accepting the role. He cautioned him that by accepting the role of Jesus in the movie, he might ruin his Hollywood carrier. His reply is worth noting, “We all have to embrace our crosses. Jesus is as controversial now as he has ever been. Not much has changed in 2000 years.” (Ref: YouTube video, Christ over fame part 3; Jerome Chong). Mel Gibson was right, Jim Caviezel got fewer challenging roles matching his talent. He has no regrets to this day. May Jesus grant him the strength to stand with Jesus until the very end. There are people from places like Hollywood, deemed foreign to Jesus, yet gladly carry their precious gifts and go to the Heavenly Jerusalem as Isaiah 66 predicted.
Jesus is challenging you today. Are you strong enough to make the sacrifices? If not, sticking around is no good.
“So, strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees. Make straight paths for your feet, that what is lame may not disjointed but healed.” (Heb 12:13).
There is a way to stay strong in this battle; stay close to Jesus.