Today’s scripture readings are remarkable for their globally-inclusive enthusiasm. Both the Prophet Isaiah and Jesus speak of people of all nations coming to acknowledge and worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God is the Creator and Savior of all of humanity. He revealed himself in a unique way to the people of the Old Covenant, but always with a view to revealing himself to all nations through Israel, the “light of revelation to the gentiles.” (Cf. Isaiah 2:2, 42:6, 49:6; Luke 2:32)
Salvation, however, is not automatic. We cannot achieve it on our own, but must cooperate with the grace of God. Jesus speaks of the “narrow gate” in today’s gospel. In John’s gospel he says, “I am the gate for the sheep.” (John 10:7) It is he alone who shows us the way to the Father, to heaven: “No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) We who acknowledge Jesus as Savior must also proclaim this good news to all the world. (Cf. Mark 16:15) As the saying goes, “Don’t keep the faith, share it!”
With regard to the meaning of “salvation,” Catholics tend to be uncomfortable when asked by some evangelical Christians, “Are you saved?” For them “salvation” means having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. For Catholics “salvation” means getting to heaven and salvation is, therefore, a future reality. We, like all of humanity, however, are redeemed. Redemption is the consequence of the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. In his letter to the Philippians, for example, Saint Paul speaks of “being taken possession of by Christ [i.e., redemption] (3:12) but still continuing his “pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus” [i.e., salvation] (3:14).
God “wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4) The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches: “Those who obey the prompting of the Spirit of truth are already on the way to salvation…Because she believes in God’s universal plan of salvation, the Church must be missionary.” (n. 851) Hence the “great commission”: “Go out to all the world and tell the good news.” (Mark 16:15)
My threshing event is planned for this Saturday, August 31, at the home farm. I’m hoping for a day of nice weather. There are two loads, which are under cover. A noon potluck lunch at St. Philip Church near Rolling Ground followed by a few hours of work in the afternoon should make a nice day. All who care to come are welcome. The farm’s address is 25858 Gorman Lane, Blue River, WI 53518, on state highway 171 in Richland County. St. Philip Church is a mile east of the intersection of state highway 171 and US highway 61 in Crawford County.
St. Peter’s School begins this week with the welcome-back picnic on Monday. MACS students return after Labor Day, but the MACS Family Fun Night is this Wednesday. Many colleges and universities have already begun. Fall is in the air. Even though Mrs. Christopher’s message says the “white stuff” is not far off, I’m hoping for a long fall, a short winter and an early spring!
Pray the Rosary for all who are preparing to return to school, whether students or teachers. Pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and for those discerning their vocations. Pray for those serving in the armed services from our area and, as always, pray for peace.
May God bless his people with peace.