Reflection on the Readings


“The trouble with politicians today”, a friend said to me one evening, “is that they always tell us that if we vote for them things will get better. If only they’d tell us the truth – that the world is a dangerous place, that there are lots of wicked people trying to exploit each other, and that they will do their best to steer us through – then we might believe them.” “Yes”, another friend chipped in, “and that’s what happens in the church as well. We are so eager to tell people that God loves them, that everything’s going to be all right, that God welcomes wicked people as well as good ones – and then ordinary Christians have to live in the real world where people lie and cheat and grab what they want. Somehow it doesn’t fit.”

I thought about this conversation again as I read this Sunday’s gospel passage. It’s one that often bothers people because it doesn’t say what we want it to. We want to hear a nice story about an all-access bash hosted by an excessively tolerant God. We expect God (as people now fashionably say) to be “inclusive” and to allow his guests to determine the house rules. We don’t want to hear about judgment on the wicked, or about demanding standards of holiness, or about weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Friends, God wants us to be mature, courageous, and faithful disciples, not immature, indifferent, an obstinate place-takers. And part of being grown-up spiritually is understanding the reality that actions have consequences, that moral choices matter, and that real human life isn’t like a game of chess where even if we do badly the pieces get put back in the box at the end of the day and we can start again tomorrow.

Quote of the Week

How can we profess faith in God’s word, and then refuse to let it inspire and direct our thinking, our activity, our decisions, and our responsibilities toward one another? Faith is always demanding, because faith leads us beyond ourselves.

Saint John Paul II