Go out to the entire world and tell the good news

A beautiful sermon by a young Priest of Jewish descent - Fr Luke Leighton, CFR

Go out to the entire world and tell the good news. This is the responsorial psalm that we sang together. Go out to the entire world and tell the good news. It’s the missionary call that we receive at the end of every mass: “Go forth, the mass has ended, go and announce the gospel of the Lord”. It’s who we are as a Christian people. We've experienced this goodness, and we just feel it pains until we can share it with others. Yet, as we listen to the gospel, it could have felt like, as you listen to those words of our Lord, like these are some somber words. These are serious words, these are heavy words. Does it resonate with how we just joyfully sang this psalm? What's going on there? There's some drama involved. I'll admit to you that I feel that drama within myself, I feel the tension between. Will the gospel be accepted or not within myself? Will the Jewish people receive this message or not? Will it go forth to the gentiles? I feel this in myself.

Perhaps I’ve shared with you before, My father is Jewish, my grandparents were Jewish, many of my ancestors died in the holocaust. When I was a seminarian about 10 years ago, I went to the holy land, to Israel. I went feeling very much rooted and connected to my ancestry but also to my Christian faith. It was a very rich experience for me. But again one filled with kind of inner tension and drama. The pinnacle of that, the height of that was the visit to the temple in Jerusalem. We visited a section of the temple. The temple mount is very large; there are different sections you can go to. There's a quiet section which is where the stairs are. Where people would come in, they visit the Makah, they go through the ritual cleansing, they purchase their ritually clean animals, and then, lead those animals into the temple, which is really beautiful. The stairs were built in such a way that as you walked up the stairs, some of them were spaced out in different lengths. There’s short stairs and long stairs. As you went up, your feet on the stairs would have the rhythmic pattern of the psalms. So as you walk up the stairs into the temple, with ritually clean animals to offer, you could say the psalms of ascent to the sound of your own feet hitting the stairs. So much beauty, we saw that juniper, and jasmine, and different things, were growing on the side of the temple. Carved into the stones, places where water could gather, so that plants could grow out the side of the temple as a reminder of the garden. Here at the temple, God was restoring his people to the friendship of the garden that Adam walked with God in the cool of the day. This is what God's plan was always about. So we went, this group of catholic seminarians to the temple. In this one section that we were visiting, it was very quiet, very prayerful. And I was able to reflect on what it must have been like for my own ancestors to visit the temple.

Then we went to the much more popular section - the western wall. Where there are synagogues set up today and where people and were Jewish people were praying. This is where you see famous pictures of people standing at the wall, inserting intentions, and names of people into the wall, and praying. There’s an image of John Paul II at the western wall praying. For years, I had thought of what it would be like to go there. In the weeks leading up to the trip, I thought of all the people that I wanted to pray for - grandparents, great grandparents, and so forth. So I went feeling very much connected to my ancestry, and stood at the wall for a long time. I kind of lost myself; I don't know how long it was. Honestly it could have been 30 seconds, it could have been 30 minutes, I don't remember.

But I was there and when I turned around, after a very intense time of prayer, sadly there were two ultra-orthodox Jewish men. I was in my habit, and they started yelling at me in a language I didn't understand. Pointing at my cross, giving me a hard time for being there. Questioning why I was there. There was this language barrier. I could not explain to them what was happening within me. It was this very interesting experience for me and I share this very personally with you, that I felt something of what it must have been like for our Lord. Think of what it's like for our Lord Jesus, who was a young Jewish man. I was about his age; 30 at the time. A young Jewish man deeply connected to the history, and the traditions, and the roots of his ancestors, rejected by those very people.

Interesting for me, I went back to the tour bus. Some of my classmates, friends could tell that I was kind of in a funny mood, that I was affected by our visit. They tried asking me about it. When I tried explaining to them, they also did not understand. So I kind of felt doubly misunderstood. My friend did not understand what it was like, the Jewish people did not understand what I was feeling. It was this feeling of rejection and it put me in touch with what it must have been like for our Lord. So when we hear Jesus’ message today, there is a lot of drama in it. I feel that myself, there's a lot of tension in that.

What can I compare it to for you from your own experience? Something I hear about all the time from parents and grandparents: my children no longer practice the faith. A deep sorrow for so many of you, that you find that this experience of knowing and loving Jesus, and being loved by him, and being in relationship to the father is so good, you’ve tried everything to hand that on to your children. And you see them taken up into the thoughts of the world. Rejecting what you find to be so precious, something of that is this experience, the pain of this tension and this drama.

Where does this lead us? We have to have hope, we have to experience that Jesus went through that rejection and sorrow of being misunderstood and rejected just because he wants to save us. Beautifully, at the end of the gospel today, he says they will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south. Maybe we can think of it as this cruciform shape. You look at our Lord on the cross behind me, from the east and the west, from the north to the south, to bring people from all over the world into his kingdom. He stretched out his arms on the cross to offer himself, to offer his own experience of rejection and misunderstanding to his father. So that in our experiences of rejection and misunderstanding, we too can be taken up into the love of the Trinity. It’s for nothing less than that that He gave himself that our experiences of life. Especially those things that are burdensome and difficult, what we call the cross, can be taken up into this kingdom. There is no other way. The door that we pass through is the Lord Jesus Christ.

I don't often like doing this but to explain the gospel of Luke which we heard today - my favorite gospel, we have to look at the gospel of John. In the gospel of John, Jesus says, because he references this narrow door in the gospel of Luke and we might think: all right, Jesus, what are you talking about? What is that narrow door? And then in the gospel of John he says: I am the door; I am the gate for the sheep. We pass through him, brothers and sisters.

This morning in Rome, the Holy Father put it this way. "Now let us think about when Jesus says I am the door in the gospel of John chapter 10. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved. He wants to tell us that to enter God's life into salvation; we need to pass through him, not through another one. Through him, to welcome him and his word, just to enter into the city, someone had to measure the same as the only remaining open narrow door".

In ancient cities, they would have a big gate where carts could come through during the day. At night, to make it safer, they'd close the gates and there would be just a small little narrow door. You'd have to be the right size to fit through that door. The Holy Father is making the point that for us to enter into the kingdom, we have to have the same shape as Jesus, we have to have the same measurements as Jesus, we have to be united to his cruciform shape.

"Someone had to measure the same as the only remaining open narrow door. So too the Christian, the Christian door is a life whose measure is Christ founded and modeled on him. This means that the rule of measure is Jesus and his gospel. Not what we think, but what he says to us. So we are talking about a narrow door not because only a few are destined to go through it. No! But because to belong to Christ means to follow him, to live one's life in love, in service, and in giving oneself as he did who passed through the narrow door of the cross". So for us, we have great hope that we will be saved. Because we are in Christ, we fit the measurement of Christ's cross. "Entering into the project God proposes for our life requires that we restrict the space of egoism, reduce the presumption of self-sufficiency, and lower the heights of pride and arrogance, that we overcome laziness in order to traverse the risk of love even when it involves the cross".

Brothers and sisters, we are meant to be joined to Jesus in his gift on the cross, from east to west, north and south that all might be welcomed into this expression of love that is an offering to the father. We come to the mass to participate in that self offering. When the gifts are brought up, it is us saying Lord here I am, I present myself to you. When the bread and wine are offered to the father, they're brought into the life of Jesus; they become the transubstantiated presence of Christ. Our offerings are joined to that perfect offering of Jesus. You and I, Jewish, gentile, we are welcomed into this expression of love. We know goodness when we receive it in Holy Communion, and it moves us to say “I have to share this with someone else”. Living here in California for the last year and a half, I’ve seen many beautiful sunsets. When I see that beautiful sunset, I think “oh how I’d like to share this with my friends back in New Jersey”. Maybe sharing the gospel is something like that. Look at this glory, look at this beauty, look at this expression of love, from east and west north and south, I have to share this with someone else. Go out to the entire world and tell the Good ne


St Joe 7/12/2022 一位猶太血統的年輕神父講道


我父親是猶太人,祖父母是猶太人,我有許多祖先都在大屠殺中喪生。我生根於猶太融入了基督的信仰。10 年前,當我還是一名神學院的學生時,我們去以色列朝聖。在朝聖途中我的內心充滿了緊張和戲劇性,這是一次非常豐富的經驗。朝聖的巔峰是參觀耶路撒冷的聖殿。聖殿山很大,我們參觀了聖殿樓梯所在的地方。這是一個安靜的區域。人們進入聖殿,行了取潔禮,購買了祭獻用的動物,然後將這些祭物帶入了聖殿。在這區域,它的階梯有長有短。當你走上樓時,腳踏在樓梯上因梯子的長度發出不同的聲響,剛好配合聖詠的節奏。所以當你走上樓梯進入聖殿提供祭物時,可以配合踩樓梯的聲音,感覺到令人鼓舞的聖詠。這個區域的景色非常美麗。我們看到杜松,茉莉,以及各種不同的植物,種在聖殿的石刻間。在這裡,水在石縫中聚集,植物覆蓋了聖殿的一側。在這裡,天主提醒祂的子民,主原本的計劃就是要重新與他的子民在樂園中晚涼時一起散步。就像當初天主與亞當ㄧ樣。在這安靜的地方,可以作虔誠的祈禱。在那裡,我體驗到祖先們進入這座聖殿的感覺。

然後我們去了大家都去的地方—西(哭)牆。在這裡有一座猶太教堂,到訪的人和猶太人都在牆前祈禱。您可以看到人們站在牆邊,將祈禱的意向和人名寫在紙條上插入磚縫中對著牆祈禱。這裡有一幅教宗若望保祿二世在西牆前祈禱的圖像。多年來,我一直想像著西牆祈禱的情景。在旅行前的幾個禮拜,我想到了所有我想祈禱的對向:祖父母、曾祖父母等等。在那裡,我覺得我和我的祖先們非常的親近。我在牆邊祈禱了很長的時間,不知道在那裡,也不知道過了多久。30 秒,或是 30 分鐘,都不清楚了。






今天早上在羅馬,教宗說: “現在讓我們想想,當耶穌在若望福音第 10 章說:我就是門,從我這進入就會得救。祂告訴我們,想進入永生,進入救恩,沒有另一個門。我們必需通過耶穌,歡迎祂,接受祂的話語,來進入天主的國。到天國必需通過這唯一敞開的窄門—耶穌,你的行爲舉止必需和耶穌一樣“。