Homily for August 25, 2013 The last shall be first, the first last taught by Father Raphael Iannone
Luke 13:22-30 And He went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?” And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’ then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’ But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’ There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out. They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God. And indeed there are last who will be first, and there are first who will be last.”
John Andrew Holmes said, “It is well to remember that the entire universe, with one trifling exception, is composed of others.”
We need to change our perception and put others first. Jesus gave us a new way to see. He said that the last would be first and the first last.
In the book of Mark, Jesus elaborates. Mark 10:42-45 But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
Jesus told His disciples that he made Himself servant of all. Mary, Peter, Andrew, James, and John served others.
Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.
Ephesians 3:1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles—
Ephesians 3:14-19 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Paul implores us to also serve God the way he serves God.
To be meek means to cast off all self-centeredness and pride. To place others’ needs before ours. To chose to live the life God wants. Our desire for independence from God has disastrous consequences. Consider Adam and Eve – they lost the so much with their choice of sin. Don’t give up Heavenly blessings for earthly desires.
We become fulfilled when we give up being masters of our own lives and follow our saving God.
Lao Tzu – left his village to contemplate death. He had to leave behind his possessions. Ultimately he penned eighty-one sayings. He said, “I have three precious things which I hold fast and prize. The first is gentleness; the second is frugality; the third is humility, which keeps me from putting myself before others. Be gentle and you can be bold; be frugal and you can be liberal; avoid putting yourself before others and you can become a leader among men.”
Three things he holds precious – gentleness, frugality and humility which keeps him from putting himself before others.
If you are gentle you can be bold.
Frugal – Liberal
Lao Tzu tells us not to put ourselves before others, and then we can be a leader of man.
We like looking down at others, living in the wrong perspective.
Jesus impacted the Jewish belief that they were God’s favorites and all the others were the enemy. Jesus’ message was not only for the Jews but also for the Gentiles.
Jesus gives us an enlightened perspective of how to do things God’s way. How the first must be last and the last first. We need to pay the price and put our selves in position to enter through the narrow gate. The light of God cancels all the darkness.
There is an old parable about a bird that circles the sky and notices that his shadow covers some of the grass on the hills. The plants were suffering under the intense heat of the sun, so this bird gathers other birds and they all circle around and block some of the sun from the earth, saving the plants. When we pull together, and all of us do what God wants us to do, we can go a long way to advancing God’s plan on the earth.
Sparrows are trifling exceptions, just a speck, but by combing together, those specks become a mighty force.
John Coltrane put out an incredible album called: A Love Supreme.
He was writing to rejoice in God’s gifts. He desired to make people happy through his music through the grace of God which gave him the ability to share with others.
C.S. Lewis said, “You will never make a good impression on other people until you stop thinking about what sort of impression you are making.”
After Coltrane played his music there was thirty minutes of applause and a great prayer as people thanked God for the music.
The Latin term (Father Raphael gave me more info on nunc dimities)– It’s nunc dimitis-now you can dismiss(your servant o Lord, for I have seen your salvation). The prayer of the high priest Simeon when Jesus was brought to the Temple for circumsion. The canticle is often referred as simply nunc dimitis. Fr.R
We are servants of the Lord. We want to say, I’ve done what you asked me to do.
We cannot approach the truth until we let go of our self-centeredness.
The Beatitudes say blessed are the poor in Spirit for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth, blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.
Go forth mindful that we are a speck. That we can combine with other specks to help and give graciously of the gifts God has given us to share.
Take up your cross and follow Him. We have a common purpose in the unity of Christ, and we go forth strengthened by the Eucharist to bring forth God’s Kingdom.