Here is a reflection on this Sunday’s gospel:
The door to the kingdom of God will not remain open forever. There comes a time when for each one of us personally in death, and cosmically at the Second Coming of Christ, the door will be closed. Jesus, the Risen Christ is the Master of God’s household who “rises” to shut the door. He will not open it to name-dropping or pleas of casual associates who by their protests only indicate how shallow their relationship with Jesus has been. In fact, says the Gospel, Jesus will be busy at the back door with those who are too ashamed to come to the front: the strangers, the beggars, those healed in their bodies and psyches, the abused women, the repentant sinners, and all those who may not have known much about God. But they were known by God as the last who deserved to be first in the kingdom.
This is the scene of the Gospel reversal, with graphic language to impress upon Jesus’ audience that those who expect to be the guests at the messianic banquet, who consider themselves holy, may be disappointed. They will have no place in the history of salvation, and will not sit with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and all the prophets; others will take their place. We should remember that these words of Jesus are admonitions rather than predictions. If we are honest with ourselves, especially our self-righteous selves, we will admit that we still find it rather scandalous that “those people,” however we name or categorize them, might be invited to the feast—or at least have a more favored place at table than we do.
Verna A. Holyhead, “Busy at the Back Door,” from the August 2019 issue of Give Us This Day www.giveusthisday.org. Adapted from Welcoming the Word in Year C: With Burning Hearts (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2006), 139. Used with permission.
As we open our minds and hearts this weekend, to the testimony and message offered by our summer mission visitor, Fr. Jim Huvane, of the Maryknoll community, I am asking that we additionally consider, with open hearts, the following.
The Immigrant Worker Project (IWP), which originally was based right here at St. Mary and now centered in Canton, Ohio, has been a major source of support to our Hispanic brothers and sisters. We have been invited to attend a gathering on Tuesday, September 10th, 7:00 p.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church (353 E. Pine Street, Wooster). Jeff Stewart, Director of the Immigrant Worker Project (IWP), will offer an update on the work of IWP and the transportation it offers for our Hispanic immigrant community.
IWP transportation has been essential in keeping immigrants safe and in breaking the grip of the “rideteros,” ride-givers charging exorbitant fees and taking advantage of immigrants in need of transportation to vital appointments. Westminster’s Immigration Justice Committee and the Wooster Friends Meeting have organized an effort, one which area churches can participate in, to replace the old, and now inoperable, IWP 15-passenger van. Their pledge toward the van replacement fund is a concrete action in support an organization that does so much to assist local Hispanic immigrants with their personal and legal needs.