Studies and Meditations on this Sundays Scripture Readings: August 25, 2013


And some one 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..."

To help us prepare for this coming Sunday, here are the readings, studies and reflections for this coming Sunday's Scripture readings. This Sunday is the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time.

are the Scripture readings from the U.S. Catholic bishops website.

My own weekly study on the Sunday Readings can be found here at my website.

Here are three short audio reflections on the readings by Sister Ann Shields, Dr. Scott Hahn, and Fr. Robert Barron.

Scripture scholar Fr. Francis Martin's video meditations on the Sunday Scripture readings can be found here.

Further study resources for the Readings: St. Charles Borromeo Bible Study can be found here, Catholic Matters can be found here, and the Haydock Commentary can be found here. The link to the* Catena Aurea* ("Golden Chain") of St. Thomas Aquinas which I usually provide does not seem to be working, so I'll try to add it later if it becomes available.

Please consider supporting those who provide these free resources.

Discussion, questions and charitable comments are always welcome. Have a blessed week!


Here is the link to the Caetena Aurea:



Thanks! 15 minutes well-spent! :)


**From the Navarre Bible Commentary

First Reading - From: Isaiah 66:18-21

The nations in pilgrimage to Jerusalem

[18] For 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, [19] 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 coastlands afar off, that have not heard my fame or seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the nations. [20] 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 Israelites bring their cereal offering in a clean vessel to the house of the Lord. [21] And some of them also I will take for priests and for Levites, says the Lord.

Commentary: *

66:18-24. The book ends with a colophon, part in prose (vv. 18-21), part in verse (vv. 22-24). It begins by announcing that the glory of the Lord will be proclaimed to the nations, and they will respond by flocking in pilgrimage to the temple of the Lord.

Verses 18-21 are a sort of parallel to 2:2-4: both passages act as a kind of marker, one for the beginning and one for the end of the book. In other words, the exile in Babylon will come to be seen as divine punishment inflicted on the people for their sins, for their breaking the Covenant. There may be an oblique reference here to the expulsion of our first parents from the garden of Eden (Gen 1:23): Israel, too, was expelled from its land and from Zion, “the house of Jacob” (2:6). But God, in his mercy towards his people, will pardon them and have them come back to his “holy mountain”, Jerusalem (v. 20), and his gathering will also involve “all nations and tongues” (v. 18). This return to Zion is a sign that their transgression is totally forgiven. In some ways, the book of Isaiah is an (imperfect) anticipation and account of salvation history which runs right through the Bible, from the expulsion from Paradise (Gen 3:23), to the vision of the “heavenly Jerusalem”, in the “new heavens and the new earth” (v. 22 and Rev 21:1-27), at the centre of which will be found the “tree of life” (Rev 22:14).

Theodoret of Cyrus reads these words as an announcement of the universal salvation that stems from the Incarnation, and he comments that the prophet showed that Christ became “a slave not only to redeem the Jews but to bring salvation to all the nations” (Commentaria in Isaiam, 66, 18). The Second Letter to the Corinthians attributed to St Clement of Rome also sees v. 18 as an announcement of the Second Coming of our Lord: “I am coming to gather all nations and tongues: this verse prophesies the last day, when Christ will come again to reward each man according to his deeds” (Pseudo-Clement, Epistula II and Corinthios, 17, 4).

The nations mentioned in v. 19 are not easy to identify; but Tarshish is probably Spain; Put, Libya; Lud, Lydia; Tubal, Cilicia; and Javan, Ionia, Greece.

“And some of them also I will take for priests” (v. 21): this may mean (though one cannot be sure) that God will choose priests and Levites from among the pagans. Given the tenor of v. 22, it is more likely that “descendants” of Israel will hold the office of the holy priesthood; either interpretation fits in with the general newness and universalism that are a feature of chapters 65 and 66 (cf. 61:6).

The last oracle in the book of Isaiah is a call to an active, living hope (vv. 22-24). Verse 23, in its initial historical context, was addressed to the chosen people of the Old Testament, but it opens out to include all mankind; that is how the Fathers interpreted it. “There will be a new heaven and a new earth, where man will live forever united with God. Isaiah tells us that this new life will last forever: For as the new heavens and the new earth which I shall make shall remain before me, says the Lord; so shall your descendants and your name remain (Is 66:22)” (St Irenaeus of Lyons, Adversus haereses, 5, 36, 1).

Even so, a warning is issued about the punishment that awaits evildoers (v. 24). The harshness of the language here is in sharp contrast to the general tone of hope. The prophet may have chosen to strike this dark note in order to have the inhabitants of Zion (the saved) recognize God’s sovereignty over those who reject him and have them appreciate the blessings bestowed in Zion, that is, in heaven. Jesus uses the metaphor of the worm that does not die to describe the punishment earned by the grave sin of scandal (cf. Mk 9:48).


**From the Navarre Bible Commentary

Second Reading - From: Hebrews 12:4-15

Perseverance in Affliction
[4] In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. [5] And 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. [6] For the Lord disciplines him whom he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” [7] 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? [8] If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. [9] Besides this, we have had earthly fathers to discipline us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? [10] For they disciplined us for a short time at their pleasure, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.

[11] 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.
Striving for Peace; Purity; Reverent Worship
[12] Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, [13] and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. [14] Strive for peace with all men, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. [15] See to it that no one fail to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” spring up and cause trouble, and by it the many become defiled.

Commentary below…



4-13. Following Christ's example, Christians should struggle to avoid sin; they should put up with tribulation and persecution because if such adversity arises it means that the Lord permits it for our good. The letter's tone of encouragement seems to change here to one of reproach. It is as if the writer were saying, "Christ gave his life for your sins, contending even to the point of dying for you; how is it that you do not put up with suffering, out of love for him? It is true that you are being persecuted: God is disciplining you as a Father disciplines his children. But you are children of God and therefore your attitude should be one of abandonment to his will even when it seems hard. That is the way a Father brings up his children."

The main point is that the only important thing is fidelity to God, and that the sin of apostasy is the greatest of all misfortunes. "Don't forget, my son, that for you on earth there is but one evil, which you must fear and avoid with the grace of God: sin" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 386).

5-11. Suffering, the sacred writer teaches, is a sign of God's paternal love for us; it proves that we really are his children.

This teaching is supported by the quotation from Proverbs 3: 12, taken from a long discourse in which a father exhorts his son to acquire true wisdom. In the present passage the father is identified with God and we with the sons whom he is addressing.

By being incorporated into Christ through Baptism a person becomes a child of God: this is the very basis of the Christian life and it should be a source of serenity and peace in every difficulty we meet in the course of life. The term "discipline" which appears so much in this passage does not convey the full richness of the original Greek word, "paideia", which has to do with the educational upbringing of child by parent, of pupil by teacher, and also the punishment meted out in this context. Here the focus is largely on the second aspect. However, it should be remembered that in ancient times education and instruction always involved the idea of punishment. God, therefore, should not be seen as a cruel or pitiless father, but as a good father who brings up his children in an affectionate yet firm way. Adversity and suffering are a sign that this divine teaching method is at work: God uses them to educate us and discipline us. "You suffer in this present life, which is a dream, a short dream. Rejoice, because your Father-God loves you so much, and if you put no obstacles in his way, after this bad dream he will give you a good awakening" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 692). If we were illegitimate children he would not bother to educate us; but because we are true sons he disciplines us, to make us worthy of bearing his name. "Everything that comes to us from God," an ancient ecclesiastical writer reminds us, "and that we initially see as beneficial or disadvantageous, is sent to us by a father who is full of tenderness and by the wisest of physicians, with our good in mind" (Cassian, "Collationes", VII, 28).

Continued below...


When the soul has this kind of attitude, that is, when the trials the Lords sends are willingly accepted, "with peaceful fruit of righteousness" and it yields fruit of holiness which fills it with peace: "Jesus prays in the garden: "Pater mi" (Mt 26:39), "Abba, Pater!" (Mk 14:36). God is my Father, even though he may send me suffering. He loves me tenderly, even while wounding me. Jesus suffers, to fulfill the Will of the Father.... And I, who also wish to fulfill the most holy Will of God, following in the footsteps of the Master, can I complain if I too meet suffering as my traveling companion?

"It will be a sure sign of my sonship, because God is treating me as he treated his own divine Son. Then I, as he did, will be able to groan and weep alone in my Gethsemani; but, as I lie prostrate on the ground, acknowledging my nothingness, there will rise up to the Lord a cry from the depths of my soul: "Pater mi, Abba, Pater,... fiat!" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way of the Cross", I, 1).

12-13. This exhortation follows logically from the previous one. It seems to evoke the world of athletic competition referred to at the beginning of the chapter. Verse 12 is like a shout of encouragement to a runner who is beginning to flag in the middle of a race.

The author uses a quotation from Isaiah (Is 35:3) in which drooping hands and weak knees indicate moral decline (cf. 2 Sam 2:7; 4:1; Jer 47:3). He then goes on to use words from Proverbs 4:26 to encourage right living: "make straight steps with your feet": if the Christian perseveres in his efforts even if he is somewhat "lame", that is, even if he is someone whose faith is weak and is in danger of apostasy, he will be able to return to fitness in spite of everything. However, this exhortation can be taken as addressed not only to those who need to mend their ways but also to Christians in general, who should be exemplary and never in any way be a stumbling-block to their weaker brethren.

  1. These words echo what our Lord says in the Sermon on the Mount: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God". Jesus promises those who promote peace that they will be sons of God and therefore share in God's inner life, which makes man holy. The Apostles and disciples of the Lord often repeat this teaching (cf. Jas 3:18; Rom 12:18; 1 Pet 3:11). Being at peace with God, which comes from docility to his plans (v. 11), necessarily leads one to foster and maintain peace with others. Peace with God and with one's neighbor is inseparable from the search for holiness. Christ brings about the fulfillment of the ancient promises which foretold a flowering of peace and righteousness in the messianic times (cf. Ps 72:3; 85:1 1-12; Is 9:7; etc.).

"Holiness": it is not just a matter of avoiding sin. one needs to cultivate virtue and to desire to attain holiness with the help of grace. Holiness or Christian perfection is the common goal of all Christ's disciples. Salvation and holiness are really one and the same thing, for only saints can obtain entry into the presence of God: only those who are holy can see the Holy One.

"You must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Mt 5:48). These words of our Lord are always echoing through the Church; today more than ever. "Today, once again, I set myself this goal and I also remind you and all mankind: this is God's will for us, that we be saints.

"In order to bring peace, genuine peace, to souls; in order to transform the earth and to seek God our Lord in the world and through the things of the world personal sanctity is indispensable" (St J. Escriva, "Friends of God", 294).

  1. Theodoret-comments on this passage as follows: "Do not be concerned only about yourselves; rather let each of you look after the other; strengthen the waverer and assist him who needs your helping hand" ("Interpretatio Ep. ad Haebreos, ad loc."). A Christian needs to be concerned not only about his own soul, his own salvation; on his conscience should also lie the salvation of his brothers and sisters in the faith. He should be like a gardener who cares for his plants and makes sure no weeds or diseases spread through his garden. In the Old Testament, the man who denies his faith is described as a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit (cf. Deut 29:18). Anyone who is indifferent to a brother's infidelity endangers those around him, for bad example can spread like an epidemic. This passage is reminiscent of St Paul's reproach to the Corinthians: "Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?" (1 Cor 5:6).

Hence the need to be ever vigilant to ensure that no one through his own fault loses the gifts God has given him; "the true apostle is on the lookout for occasions of announcing Christ by word, either to unbelievers to draw them towards the faith, or to the faithful to instruct them, strengthen them, incite them to a more fervent life; 'for Christ's love urges us on' (2 Cor 5:14), and in the hearts of all should the Apostle's words find echo: 'Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel' (1 Cor 9:16)" (Vatican II, "Apostolicam Actuositatem", 6)


**From the Navarre Bible Commentary

Gospel Reading - From: Luke 13:22-30

The Narrow Gate
[22] He (Jesus) went on his way through towns and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. [23] And some one said to him, "Lord, will those who are saved be few?" And he said to them, [24] "Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. [25] When once the householder has risen up and shut the door, you will begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, 'Lord, open to us.' He will answer you, 'I do not know where you are from.' [26] Then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.' [27] But he will say, 'I tell you, I do not know where you come from; depart from me, all you workers of iniquity!" [28] 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. [29] And men will come from east and west, and from north and south, and sit at table in the kingdom of God. [30] And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last."


23-24. Everyone is called to form part of the Kingdom of God, for he "desires all men to be saved" (1 Tim 2:4). "Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience: those too may achieve eternal salvation. Nor shall divine providence deny the assistance necessary for salvation to those who, without any fault of theirs, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God, and who, not without grace, strive to lead a good life. Whatever good or truth is found among them is considered by the Church to be a preparation for the Gospel and given by him who enlightens all men that they may at length have life" (Vatican II, "Lumen Gentium", 16).

Certainly, only those who make a serious effort can reach the goal of salvation (cf. Lk 16:16; Mt 11:12). Our Lord tells us so by using the simile of the narrow gate. "A Christian's struggle must be unceasing, for interior life consists in beginning and beginning again. This prevents us from proudly thinking that we are perfect already. It is inevitable that we should meet difficulties on our way. If we did not come up against obstacles, we would not be creatures of flesh and blood. We will always have passions that pull us downwards; we will always have to defend ourselves against more or less self-defeating urges" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 75).

25-28. As at other times, Jesus describes eternal life by using the example of a banquet (cf., e.g., Lk 12:35ff; 14:15). Knowing the Lord and listening to his preaching is not enough for getting to heaven; what God judges is how we respond to the grace he gives us: "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven" (Mt 7:21).

29-30. Generally speaking, the Jewish people regarded themselves as the sole beneficiaries of the messianic promises made by the prophets; but Jesus proclaims that salvation is open to everyone. The only condition he lays down is that men freely respond to God's merciful call. When Christ died on the cross the veil of the temple was torn in two (Lk 23:45 and par.), a sign of the end of the distinction between Jews and Gentiles. St Paul teaches: "For he [Christ] is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall ...] that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby bringing the hostility to an end" (Eph 2:14-16). Therefore, "all men are called to belong to the new people of God. This people therefore, whilst remaining one and only one, is to be spread throughout the whole world and to all ages in order that the design of God's will may be fulfilled: he made human nature one in the beginning and has decreed that all his children who were scattered should be finally gathered together as one" (Vatican II, "Lumen Gentium", 13).

Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States. We encourage readers to purchase
The Navarre Bible for personal study. See Scepter Publishers for details.


Thank you!
I have heard many Catholics state categorically that " there is no salvation outside the Church"
All I know is that God is merciful and just.


[quote="odhiambo, post:9, topic:337182"]
Thank you!
I have heard many Catholics state categorically that " there is no salvation outside the Church"
All I know is that God is merciful and just.


You're welcome, odhiambo!

Here's what the Church says about "no salvation outside the Church." From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

"Outside the Church there is no salvation"

846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:

Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.

847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:

Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation.

848 "Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men."338

At the same time we are obligated to evangelize so that those who God calls may be aware of the fullness of the truth found in the Catholic Church and may know the means of salvation given to the Church by Jesus himself:

Mission - a requirement of the Church's catholicity

849 The missionary mandate. "Having been divinely sent to the nations that she might be 'the universal sacrament of salvation,' the Church, in obedience to the command of her founder and because it is demanded by her own essential universality, strives to preach the Gospel to all men": "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and Lo, I am with you always, until the close of the age."


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