By Fr. Dennis Chriszt, C.PP.S.
Just a few days ago,
Peter asked Jesus in the Gospel,
“Then who can be saved?”
Today’s readings answer the question once again.
To the people of Israel,
who thought that they alone would be saved,
the prophet Isaiah proclaims
that people who have never heard God’s name or seen God’s glory
would be among the saved.
Not only that,
but some of these foreigners would even serve in the Temple of God.
To the people of Israel
at that time and in that place
this must have sounded strange.
In today’s Gospel,
Jesus is asked that age-old question,
“Lord, will only a few people be saved?”
His initial answer seems to be “Yes,”
as he tells his questioner about the narrow gate,
about those who would say,
“But we ate and drank with you;
we heard you teaching in our streets.”
Then Jesus continues,
“People will come from the east and the west,
from the north and the south
and will recline at table in the kingdom of God.”
But, but, but what about us?
his listeners must have been wondering.
Are we among those who will have a hard time getting in?
Or are we among those who will be coming from the far corners of the Earth?
Isaiah and Jesus seem to be telling us not to take salvation for granted.
Just because of who we are, where we’ve come from, or what we done,
there’s no guarantee.
Many years ago,
when I ministered in a parish in Orlando,
we lived about two and a half miles from the parish church,
and one Sunday afternoon,
the doorbell rang.
When I answered,
I heard that age old question,
“Have you been saved?”
I was tired,
and not in the mood to enter into a theological conversation,
so I simply replied.
“Yes. It happened about two thousand years ago,
and I didn’t have anything to do with it.”
Later, as I thought about my reply,
I realized how truthful it was.
I didn’t have anything to do with it.
It was all God’s work.
I am not saved by “my personal relationship with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
Rather, I am saved by Christ’s relationship with me.
Today’s readings remind us
that we are not saved by anything we’ve done.
We’re not saved because we were born in the right place
at the right time.
We are saved by God’s amazing grace.
If it was up to us,
the way would be too narrow,
too difficult for us to get through.
If salvation was based on our attempt to enter,
we would indeed not be strong enough.
If we think that salvation depends on us
and what we say and do,
then we will be among those standing outside,
knocking and saying,
“Lord, open the door for us.”
I have to admit
that when I was much younger
and much more foolish,
I thought that salvation depended on what I did,
but over time,
I have come to know that it all depends on what Christ did for us.
Our salvation depends on only one thing,
and that is God’s amazing grace.
We come here today,
not to tell God what we’ve been up to this past week,
but to tell God what we’re thankful that God has done for us.
We come here to the eucharistic table,
to the table of thanksgiving,
not because we are holy,
but because God is holy.
We come knowing we are not the source of our salvation,
but because we know who is.
We come because of God’s amazing grace
that has made us among those
who will come from east and west,
from north and south,
and enables us to recline at this table in the kingdom of God.
Fr. Dennis Chriszt, C.PP.S., is the director of advanced formation for the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. He also directs Precious Blood Parish Missions (pbparishmissions.org).