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August 21, 1998     The Message
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18 The Message- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana The journey to Jerusalem: Limited or universal salvation BY FATHER DONALD DILGER Columnist Gospel Commentary for August 23, 1998: Twenty- First Sunday: Ordinary Time: Cycle C: Luke 13:22-30 In Luke 9:51 the author begins a section called "the journey to Jerusalem." The first statement notes the determination with which Jesus "sets his face" for Jerusalem because it was time for him "to be taken up." Luke found the basic outline of such a journey in the Gospel of Mark, but he greatly expanded the jour- ney into a framework for catechetical instruction on a great variety of topics. Since it had been some time since Luke mentioned the journey framework, he recalls it at the beginning of today's gospel, "Jesus went on his way.., teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem."Since Luke's theology presents Jesus as the first Christian saint to be imitated in all ways, the obvious lesson is that every Christian must take that journey to Jerusalem. During that journey of life Christians are taught by Jesus just as he taught his disciples in his day. The framework of a teaching/learning journey has been recalled. Now back to the catechism. The material in today's gospel seems to have been assembled by Luke from various traditions, since we find the same material scattered throughout the Gospel of Matthew, some in the Sermon on the Mount, some in Jesus' final sermon, and some in between. Therefore what Luke has written is hardly a word for word report of a sermonette by Jesus. The topic is phrased in a question. Someone says to Jesus, "Lord, will those who are saved be few?" Jesus does not give a direct answer but a warning, "Strive to enter by the narrow door, for many.., will seek to enter but will not be able." Whether few or many or all would be saved is a widely debated topic in early Christian catechesis. Luke seems to come down on the side of what is called "limited salvation." So does Matthew, where Jesus speaks of a wide gate and a narrow gate. For Matthew the way to the wide gate is easy and leads to destruction, while the way to the narrow gate is difficult and leads to life. The Lucan Jesus continues in today's gospel: when the owner of the house shuts the door, "you" will stand outside knocking, begging to enter. He will say from the inside, "I don't know where you are from." This is followed by a protest, "We ate and drank with you. You taught in our streets." The answer seems even more harsh, "I don't know where you are from. Get away from me, you workers of evil!" A frightening scenario which gets even worse, "There you will weep and gnash your teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God while you are thrust outside." This is followed by a promise that people will come from all directions to sit at table in the kingdom of God. Then a typical early Christian rever- sal of fortune, "Some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last." This is not a pretty picture. Who of us sinners could feel assured after reading such a passage? Much of the language used by Luke is metaphorical, symbolic. Much of it is a recasting of Old Testament language. For example, the weeping and gnashing of teeth by the excluded is adopted from psalms and elsewhere in which the author sometimes expresses the hatred of his enemies or the fate in store for them once God has smashed them. The banquet table in the kingdom of God is based on Isaiah 25:6-8. In metaphorical language Isaiah describes salvation not Ac i/i/ only for Jews but also for Gentiles (non-Jews). This passage of Isaiah was used to justify the the Christian mission from Jew to Gentile, a theme very dear to Luke even though he adopts of limited salvation. The "last/first vs. first/last" expresses a common New Testament theme, the :i: oppressed versus the oppressor. It extends hope to those on the bottom rung of the ladder. This too expresses an Old Testament theme of putting who lord it over others as a footstool for the the oppressed. This whole passage in Luke expresses vation. In the debate over who or how man) be saved there is an opposite point of view found both Old and New Testaments. Both views represented, sometimes even within one book.  example of the latter is our Book of Revelation. By offering both sides of the debate guards against any easy solution. The debate ulti- mately reflects the problem of the interplay between divine justice and divine mercy, or justice versus mercy, or salvation versus judgment. Ultimately we do not have an absolute answer t0 this question. We find consolation in a God who "wants all people to be saved," I Timothy 2:4, will cannot be frustrated. We find a Lucan parable in which a the horizon waiting for his wayward son to r i According to the preponderance of biblical this is the God revealed through Jesus Christ. We put ourselves into the hands of a God who we know loveS us and wants us to be eternally happy, a God whose thoughts and ways are fortunately not as limited as our thoughts and ways of doing things, Sunday Readings: Isaiah 66:18-21; Hebrews Luke 13:22-30. Health care serviceS : for the entire family, conveniently close to home. IBCOUNTY IImBHOSP1TAL 1314 Grand Avenue Washington, Indiana 47501' (82) 254-2760 FIRST Savings and Washington & Golden Jubilarians Arnold and Rose (Humbert) Beck of Jasper will celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary with a Mass of Thanksgiving at 11 a.m. Aug. 23 at SL Joseph Church, Jasper. A dinner for the fami- ly will follow. An Open House for family and friends will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. at Jasper Outdoor Recreation Club. They were married Aug. 19,1948, at SL Peter Celestine Church, Celes- fine. Father Alois Schnellenberger officiated. They are the parents of seven children: Alan Beck, Linda Wehr, Sandra Willis, Gary Beck, Greg Beck, Deborah Frieler and Beverly Tonnies. They have 18 grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. Mr. and Mrs. Beck are the previous owners of Beck's Green Acres Mobile Home Court; they currently own B & S Rentals of Jasper. Hi-Tech Sheet Metal Inc. Residential, Industrial & Commercial Heating & Cooling Installation Sales & Service I 4:z:z-90042 } Operated by Michael and Pattiis Koch 15 S. Third Avenue. Evansville i Golden Jubilarians Ren4 and Dorothy (Opell) Dognaux of Vincennes will celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary with a reception hosted by their children from 2 to 4 p.m., Aug. 29 in the Trailblazer Room on the Vincennes University campus. Friends and relatives are invited; the couple requests no gifts. They were married Sept. 2, 1948. Msgr. Paul Deeryoffidated. They are the parents of six chil- dren: Katherine Zeigier of Vincennes, Richard Dognaux and Julia Stocker, both of Lawrenceville, I11., Jeffrey Dognaux of Indi- anapolis, John Dognaux of Louisville, Ky., and Susan Dognaux of Austin, Tex. 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