I got this idea from an article I read a while back. Have you ever been bumped from a flight for which you had a confirmed reservation? You arrived at the airport presuming you had a seat on the plane. After all you made the reservation weeks ago. But what a lot of us don’t appreciate is the fact that many carriers overbook flights just to make sure the flight is full. Getting bumped happens more often than we think. What happens to the person who gets bumped? He or she is disappointed, frustrated, and angry and there’s not too much they can do about it. A connection can’t be made. A vacation is ruined, a meeting is missed. There are all kinds of consequences.
What has this got to do with today’s Scripture? Maybe the connection can be found in the word,’presumed’. Because I made a reservation, I presumed I had a seat, I presumed I’d be on that flight.
In our first reading from Isaiah, Jews were of the conviction that because they were the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, because they were members of God’s chosen people, they presumed they were guaranteed a welcome in the kingdom of God. Others, non Jews, would be bumped.
Luke’s reading today is warning those early followers of Jesus not to presume that because they saw and heard and followed Jesus they were guaranteed a welcome in the kingdom of God, they would never have to worry about being ‘bumped’. Others might be, but not them.
Jesus made it quite clear that it would not be those who said, ‘Lord, Lord, who would enter the kingdom, but those who did the will of His Father.’ That’s why we pray that we live this Mass outside these walls in the lives we live. Nominal membership and outward belonging are not enough.
When young couples come to get married in the church and tell me they are Catholic, or Anglican or Baptists or whatever, I always ask, ‘is that a capital c or a small c, a capital a or a small a. Are you a cultural Catholic or a committed Catholic?’
Before the world began, God chose us in Christ to be God’s adopted sons and daughters. But we have to respond to being chosen in a positive way. We can’t presume on it or take it for granted. If we let tardiness or indifference wean us away from what that being ‘chosen’ demands of us, we can be bumped.
Using the same idea of the plane reservation – Isaiah and Luke are letting the people of their separate times know that they don’t have reservations on a private jet. They will be seated next to people they never expected. What do you mean non Jews are on this plane, what do you mean non Christians are on this plane, and what do you mean non Muslims are on this plane?
Isaiah’s words must have shocked his Jewish listeners, “I am coming to gather all nations and tongues, they shall come and shall see my glory, and I will set a sign on them and some of them I will make priests and Levites.” Luke’s listeners must have shared the same shock, “they shall come from the east and the west, from north and south and will eat in the kingdom of God.”
We have to remember the great awakening Peter had after his encounter with the family of the pagan Cornelius, “what I have come to realize is this, that any person of any nationality who does what is right is acceptable to God.”
We are all chosen, we all have reservations, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus – every person of every nationality are loved by God, redeemed by Jesus, Who they may never know.
As we continue to celebrate this Mass we can thank God for God’s graciousness toward each of us for choosing us in Christ before the world began. May we be blessed with the grace to respond to our choseness and not only hear the word of God but live the word of God and may none of us ever be bumped.