21st Sunday In Ordinary Time

Are We Uncomfortable Yet?
“… the narrow gate”; “… I do not know where you are from?”; “… the first will be last.” These passages from the Gospel today should make us squirm in our seats. We should be quite uncomfortable with the consequences of tepid participation in Jesus’ gospel mission. If we truly reflect on the words of Jesus, we should be roused to action. Jesus consistently demands that those who follow God’s ways do so with their whole being. Faith in God demands action. Love of God demands action. Love of neighbor demands action. 

The Gospel states clearly that there will be judgment of our actions. Some from every direction will be invited into God’s heavenly dwelling place; others will be locked out. An important part of the criteria for entering is whether we are being a prophet – a spokesperson for God’s message to the community around us. A prophet speaks truth to power – God’s truth to those who are only worldly. What does it look like to be a prophet today? The answer certainly would include speaking up about injustice and neglect of the poor and powerless. 

Isaiah the prophet proclaims the Lord’s message today that persons arriving from every nation and speaking every language will be coming to the Kingdom of God bringing their offerings and proclaiming the glory of God. Are we doing our part to invite and encourage people (especially those close to us) to come and worship our Lord in the Eucharist, offering gifts of gratitude and giving God the glory?

Feast Day of Saint Louis of France – Thursday, August 25
Patron Saint of our Archdiocese and our City
King Louis IX, King of France (1214-1270), was certainly one of the most illustrious kings in the Middle Ages, and definitely the most religious and spiritually devoted kings in French history. He became king at 12 and was guided by his mother in this role until he was 20; altogether he was king for 44 years. At his coronation as King of France, Louis IX bound himself by oath as God’s anointed and as the father of his people, as most French kings did. But Louis was different; he actually interpreted his kingly duties in light of his Catholic faith. After extensive violence of the two previous reigns, he brought peace and justice to his kingdom. 

Besides being a loving husband of Margaret and the caring father of 11 children, Louis was indeed devoted to his people, founding hospitals and orphanages, visiting the sick and caring even for people with leprosy. He became a Third Order or Lay Franciscan and tried to emulate St. Francis of Assisi. Every day he had 13 special guests at his dining table from among the poor to eat with him. To care for spiritual needs, he built cathedrals, churches and libraries. He presided at many trials and made decisions with honesty and equality. 

King Louis, a skillful knight and an effective leader, led two Crusades to open up the Holy Land again to Christian pilgrims and provide safe passage to all of the sacred shrines. He spent four years in the Kingdom of Jerusalem using his wealth to rebuild the defenses and persisted in diplomatically negotiating with the Islamic powers of Syria and Egypt. 

On his second crusade, he landed his army in North Africa in 1270. There an epidemic of disease broke out and many of his men died, and on August 25, the king himself died at age 56. He was canonized by Rome 27 years later.

Saint Louis was a kind of “super star” of his era with regard to his political rule in France, his religious dedication to the Catholic Church and his personal life with his family. No wonder the French founders of our city chose to name it after King Louis IX, and our Archdiocesan founders picked him as our primary patron saint.

Come to Mass on Thursday at 8 a.m. to celebrate his life, and pray for his guidance!