Reflection by Rev. Leonard N. Peterson

In my Pennsylvania part of the world, the main transportation company is called “SEPTA.”  It’s an acronym made up of the phrase: “Southeast Pennsylvania Transportation Authority.”  I found out recently that the letters could also represent the “Special Education Parent Teacher Association.”  In the state of Arizona exclusively they mean the “Special Education Program for Teachers and Administrators.”

But for my purposes, I ask you to stick with the transit company meaning. Thus, the letters appear on trolleys, buses, trains, and auxiliary company vehicles as a logo.  The letter “S” forms from a clever map of the area served.  All of this to point out how accustomed we are to living with acronyms.  The federal government is the top user of such, creating a veritable “alphabet soup” of committees and departments.

When He walked the earth, Our Lord never had to face such cryptic language. However, you could say that He met what we might call today an “FAQ” or “Frequently Asked Question.”  A presumably Jewish person put it this way: “Lord, will only a few people be saved?”

Strangely, Our Lord did not give a straight numerical reply.  He intended by this to cut through the questioner’s bias and then to describe the process of “being saved”, which is to say “attaining heaven.”  Apparently trying to enter through the wide gate is a mistake.  The easier entrance, the popular one.  The one that practically was marked “Chosen People Only.”  Our Lord wanted His questioner to accept the fact that all people from all the nations are eligible.

Moreover, the tables will be turned on the world’s assumptions about who is first and who last.  Heaven will reverse earth’s rankings, to the surprise of many.  Stories with this moral as their essence have been told over the centuries.  So maybe we have to adjust our interpretations of acronyms like VIP and AI.

There is one very Catholic acronym given us by no less a person than St. Ignatius of Loyola, the Founder of the Jesuits. It has all the guidepost elements of a universal reaction to life’s twists and turns.  It is AMDG.  The letters are the first of each Latin word in the phrase “Ad maiorum Dei gloriam,” which in English reads: “To the greater glory of God.”  I used to write the acronym at the top of all sorts of papers destined for Sister So and So’s desk when I was in grade school. The words implied that I was never to offer less than my best to God. Come to think of it, not a bad way to make life worth living.

Reading I:  Isaiah 66: 18-21: All nations are to be at home in God’s house, so that no one group has exclusive rights to the kingdom.

Reading II:  Hebrews 12: 5-7, 11-13: The reader is urged to persevere in view of what he/she will win at the end of life’s race.  Suffering, however, is a part of the human condition.

The Gospel:  Luke 13: 22-30: Luke stresses that the Christian way of life demands one’s total allegiance to Jesus.  No one is to be excluded as travel companions along the way, especially from among the poor and lowly.