Once again, following the Catholic Lectionary®, we find two interesting readings, both dealing with who is saved. In the first reading we hear “Paul” speaking to the Hebrews. Once again, we don’t know who wrote this, but modern scholarship generally does not think it was Paul. Here is what whoever has to say:
Every priest stands daily at his ministry,
offering frequently those same sacrifices
that can never take away sins.
But this one offered one sacrifice for sins,
and took his seat forever at the right hand of God;
now he waits until his enemies are made his footstool.
For by one offering he has made perfect forever
those who are being consecrated.
The Holy Spirit also testifies to us, for after saying:
This is the covenant I will establish with them
after those days, says the Lord:
“I will put my laws in their hearts,
and I will write them upon their minds,”
he also says:
Their sins and their evildoing
I will remember no more.
Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer offering for sin.
The italics are in the original, so it is “Paul’s” emphasis. I find this reading totally fascinating and would love to hear the epicycles of a priest who is about to offer the sacrifice of the Mass, just like he does every day. Which is apparently completely unnecessary. This is perhaps the clearest statement of universalist theology I have seen. Jesus died for all of our sins, period, end of story, nothing else need be done. Religiously, the job is finished. No baptism, no confession, no communion. Nothing. Just “Thank you, Jesus!” Of course, pretty much any church doesn’t really want to preach universalism. If ALL of our sins are forgiven, nothing we do matters. In some ways, it is worse than “Darwinism” to a fundamentalist. “Darwinism” to a fundamentalist means we can do whatever we want because when we die nothing happens. in Universalism, you die and go to heaven. No matter what! Hard to control a congregation like that. So much for the Inquisition.
The gospel reading starts with Jesus telling the crowd a parable, yadda, yadda, yadda. But when he gets alone with his disciples, things get interesting:
And when he was alone,
those present along with the Twelve
questioned him about the parables.
He answered them,
“The mystery of the Kingdom of God has been granted to you.
But to those outside everything comes in parables, so that
they may look and see but not perceive,
and hear and listen but not understand,
in order that they may not be converted and be forgiven.”
Wait….WHAT??? There it is, plain as day, Jesus is telling things to the crowd that are intentionally so obscure and obtuse that they cannot possibly understand them. And if you don’t understand the parable, BUZZZZZZZZZ, heaven is not for you. Your sins are not forgiven. Have to know the secret password! And once again, the italics are in the original.
What are we to make of a preacher who intentionally preaches so no one understands him? A teacher who makes things more complicated — not less? And this is our moral leader for all time? And before you say, “Well, yes, but now the secret is published for all to see.” The people who wrote that had no idea that everyone would be able to read that. Remember everything is handwritten at the time, these would have been intended to be passed around to the elect, people like me weren’t supposed to see this stuff.
So, is everyone in? Or only those who know the password and secret handshake? Priests all over the country must have been tap dancing today.