Readings and Readings and for Sunday August 21, 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

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FIRST READING

“They shall bring all your brethren from all the nations.”

A reading from the Book of Isaiah (Isaiah 66:18-21)

Thus says the Lord: “I know their works and their thoughts, and I am coming to gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and shall see my glory, and I will set a sign among them. And from them I will send survivors to the nations, to Tarshish, Put, and Lud, who draw the bow, to Tubal and Javan, to the islands afar off, that have not heard my fame or seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the nations. And they shall bring all your brethren from all the nations as an offering to the Lord, upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon dromedaries, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, says the Lord, just as the sons of Israel bring their cereal offering in a clean vessel to the house of the Lord. And some of them also I will take for priests and Levites, says the Lord.”

The word of the Lord.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM Psalm 117: 1.2 (R. Mark 16:15)

R/. Go into all the world and preach the Gospel.

Or: Alleluia.

O praise the Lord, all you nations;

acclaim him, all you peoples! R/.

For his merciful love has prevailed over us;

and the Lord’s faithfulness endures forever. R/.

SECOND READING

“The Lord disciplines him whom he loves.”

A reading from the Letter to the Hebrews (Hebrews 12:5-7.11-13)

Brethren: Have you forgotten the exhortation which addresses you as sons? — “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor lose courage when you are punished by him. For the Lord disciplines him whom he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed

The word of the Lord.

ALLELUIA John 14:6

Alleluia. I am the way, and the truth, and the life, says the Lord; no one comes to the Father, but by me. Alleluia.

GOSPEL

“Men will come from east and west, and sit at table in the kingdom of God.”

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke (Luke 13:22-30)

At that time: Jesus went on his way through towns and villages, teaching, and journeying towards Jerusalem. And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, “Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the householder has risen up and shut the door, you will begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us.’ “He will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from; depart from me, all you workers of iniquity!’ There you will weep and gnash your teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves thrust out. And men will come from east and west, and from north and south, and sit at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

The Gospel of the Lord.

Today’s Reflection

In the Gospel Jesus says something interesting about being first and being last. It is in response to his questioner who asks, “Will those who are saved be few?” Jesus neither confirms nor denies it. In answer, as an analogy he uses a sporting competition where there is a first place and a last place. He is talking about a spiritual race, a race we want to win but not to be in the first position. The race of life is an uphill race. If there were no difficulties, there would be no victories. To win it without a struggle is perhaps to win it without honour. If there is nothing to struggle for, there will be nothing to achieve. It is a race not meant for medals but for the crown of glory. What he does say is that salvation is not guaranteed for anyone.

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