Jesus’ radical and profound message of “. . there are those now last who will be first, and those now first who will be last”(Lk:13:30), turns the status quo of society on its head.
We have heard this expression countless times and know it to be something of a Christian maxim of Jesus’ principles. Yet, do we actually believe it? Our Australian society is a highly competitive one. Gauging success as “being first” is common – be it in the classroom, the commercial or sporting worlds. Indeed the notion of striving for excellence and ‘first place’ is a good thing in many circumstances, especially where that energy creates healthy life giving aspects and a sense of rightful pride at challenging and bettering ourselves.
Yet against this, I now grapple with the concept that to follow Jesus I am to accept that the one who arrives last, in these human terms, will be rewarded. This is difficult. Is Jesus rewarding complacency and mediocrity?
No. The Gospel today is asking a deeper question. The Gospel is speaking of the need for an ENCOUNTER with Christ. It is not enough that we might have a general knowledge of Jesus Christ, or think of him as a noble humanitarian or philosopher. We need an encounter with our loving God and fellow human being, made in God’s image. God will allow us to enter at any stage and under any circumstances in this human earthly journey, but an effort has to be made at some point.
The pathway is open to absolutely anybody, even those that do not know the person of Jesus Christ, but are able to follow his teachings through the goodness of their lives. If I am able to know and enter this RELATIONSHIP, then indeed I shall be first, regardless of when that encounter took place along my earthly journey.