“For behold, some are last who will be first; some are first who will be last.” Luke 13:22-30.
Luke’s gospel is about “life-lessons.” What are these? The gospels stories about those blessed in this life who share their riches for the good of all. Other stories are about those who experience the underside of privilege in acts of justice and mercy without seeking violence or killing to attain their ends.
This gospel pokes fun at those with comic delusions about their status or wealth that makes them “the chosen.” Only to find out the irony that they missed the opportunity to service humankind with a generous heart.
In this particular passage, Jesus is asked, “Are they few who will be saved? And he replies, “Try the narrow door.”
At the very beginning of his service as the “universal pastor,” in his Angelus address on August 25, 2013, Pope Francis commented:
“Jesus is the door. He is the entrance to salvation. He leads us to the Father, and the door that is Jesus is never closed; it is always open and to all, without distinction, without exclusion, without privileges. Jesus is waiting for you to embrace you to pardon you. Do not be afraid: he is waiting for you. Take heart, have the courage to enter through his door.”
This week, we welcome students back to Santa Catalina, and most especially our new students, new to high school, and many coming from far away. You must take heart and provide support for a speedy and worthwhile transition at this critical time in their lives, and in yours. You will gain significantly from this free service of welcome.
Welcome is one of the universal terms of hospitality.
“Welcome” as a term comes with the idea “be well by entering here,” and takes on the possibility of healing that restores the person who has journeyed to a new place in life.
From a religious standpoint, God is the ultimate guest, and you find this ideal in most religious traditions.
In the Hindu tradition, the Hindi word for welcome is “swagat,” translates “su” (good), and “aagat” (entrance).
As the Jewish family lights the candle stand or menorah at the Sabbath meal, God is the source of all wellness and holiness. Here, the will or presence of the guest is blessed, and therefore, the residence or home is blessed. So this divine guest is here with us at a home that welcomes this presence.
So new friends coming to Santa Catalina, and you may say, they are a source of blessings for us. Each person brings a unique energy and creativity and the potential for years of personal and spiritual growth.
In whatever language or tradition, a real sense of welcome provides the start of something good, desired, and encouraged.
Such is an entryway or threshold to creativity, innovation, and learning. Anthropologists call this “liminality” or the take-off point. To borrow the lyrics to an old song: “This could be the start of something big!”
So we come here to this place, our Rosary Chapel. It is a source of friendship and blessings.
A “table of welcome,” is at its center and celebrates the presence of Christ, the source of all welcome.
As Pope Francis tells us, Jesus embraces us here: “Do not be afraid: he is waiting for you. Take heart, have the courage to enter through his door.”
Rosary Chapel, Santa Catalina School, Monterey, CA.