Sunday, August 25, 2019

As On Earth, Before We Get To Heaven

The man had asked succinctly,  "Will only a few be saved?" but Jesus' answer was quite long. If we focus merely on the questioner, and if we hear his question with just with our 21st century ears, we may hear only: "Are many going to heaven when they die?" But Jesus' full response, especially the second half of it which invokes our reading from Isaiah 66 today, points on to a broader concept. Jesus' answer is about the kingdom of God, which is recognizable throughout the synoptic Gospels as meaning the Church (hence the banquet, house, and gate images in this passage). Now the Church (i.e. the kingdom) definitely has a part that dwells beyond this world with God, but we must not collapse "the kingdom" into just that part. And Jesus' discussion of the many gentile nations being brought into the family (the "last made first") and being allowed even to serve at the altar in the Temple (Isa 66:21) is clearly talking about an earthly family first, as the Holy Spirit reverses the disaster of Babel, beginning at Pentecost.

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