Word to Life — Sunday Scripture readings, Aug. 21, 2016

"I come to gather nations of every language." -- Isaiah 66:18a

“I come to gather nations of every language.” — Isaiah 66:18a


Aug. 21, Twenty-first Sunday of Ordinary Time

      Cycle C. Readings:

      1) Isaiah 66:18-21

      Psalm 117:1-2

      2) Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13

      Gospel: Luke 13:22-30


By Jeff Hensley
Catholic News Service

The final part of the Gospel for this week speaks of an event many of us are looking forward to with eagerness. Jesus says, “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.”

Having lived a pretty privileged first-world life, I’m not looking to rise in the rankings in the kingdom of God. But it has also been my privilege to know many people — despised because of their poverty and their lack of education — who will.

My wife has the added privilege of working with the poor in the form of refugees and immigrants who have literally come from the east and the west, the north and the south: from Africa, Asia and from all of Latin America.

They come here with hope and a vision to achieve a new life free from fear and free to earn a living that will sustain them and their families.

Though not all are virtuous to a fault, most of them have grown up in families where they were nurtured and protected. However, some fight against deeply dysfunctional family dynamics that caused them to live on the streets in their home countries. But they do fight their circumstances, and my wife and her co-workers at her school assist them, offering them a hand up through education, kindness, empathy and simply the presence of a listening ear.

Many, though not all, are believers. Some follow the Hindu and Muslim faiths.

Many of them will someday be among those our Savior greets in eternity in the kingdom of God, where, having experienced life in this world among “the last,” they will everlastingly experience life in the kingdom among “the first” as they recline at the table with our Lord.


Who do you know whose lives in this world would put them in the category of “the last”? In what way are you looking forward to seeing them experience life among “the first” in the kingdom?

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