When I was a kid in Catholic grade school in Seattle, we would line-up to go to lunch or

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When I was a kid in Catholic grade school in Seattle, we would line-up to go to lunch or 

recess, and there was always a lot of jostling to get as close as possible to the front of the line.  

Several of my teachers (probably in imitation of the nuns who taught THEM when they were 

kids) would chide us, and quote today’s Gospel by reminding us that “the last will be first.”  I 

knew this was a Biblical saying, but when you are a kid  eager to get to the playground, it 

seemed like just about the stupidest thing I had ever heard. 

Well, my view hasn’t changed much  because Jesus was clearly not talking about the 

recess-line.  Rather, our First Reading and Gospel today  remind us  that the length of time that 

one believes  is not the measuring stick of one’s reward in heaven; and more pointedly today – 

we are shown  that any supposed “insider-status” means almost nothing. 



Foreign Levites and Priests?!  

Our First Reading gets at this by proclaiming that the Lord is calling all the nations to be 

part of His people, this was controversial enough to most Jews in 


 and even 



but the last phrase in our reading is shocking when God proclaims: “Some of these I will take 

as priests and Levites.”  Now, this is an astonishing, breathtaking thing for the Lord to say. 


For, you see, only those Jews ethnically descended from the Tribe of Levi – a small portion of 

ALL Jews – were allowed to perform religious functions in Jewish worship.  The Lord saying

therefore, that foreigners – non-Jews, would be priests and Levites – ultimate insiders  smashes 

the conception of society and worship.  Those considered “last” being put “first” indeed. 

This theme is echoed in the haunting response of Jesus in today’s Gospel: “I do not 

know where you are from,” to which they protest by touting their insider-status: “we ate and 

drank in your company, and you taught in our streets.”  But the Lord indicates that being a 

supposed insider does not grant one a free ride, and He punctuates the point by proclaiming that 

those who seemed to be outsiders “from the east and the west, and from the north and the 

south…will recline at the table in the kingdom of God.” 



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Susan Pevensie 

C.S. Lewis’ most beloved books takes place in the magical land of Narnia, into which 

children are transported from real world WWII and post-war England, and – then finding 

themselves in Narnia - are confronted with mythical creatures, talking beasts, and great 

adventures.  The story is essentially a Christian allegory – with The Great Lion King named 

Aslan clearly representing Jesus Christ.  In the story, four siblings – Peter, Susan, Edmund and 

Lucy – are introduced in the first book, become Kings and Queens of Narnia, and then feature as 

important characters in five


 of the seven books.  Because the series is an allegory of the 

Christian Life, the final book, called The Last Battle, uses imagery from the Book of Revelation, 

and alludes to the end times and Final Judgment.  In one of the most shocking turn-of-events in 

children’s literature, we find out that one of the four original sibling heroes, Susan, is not called 

because, as her brother regretfully relates, “she is no longer a friend of Narnia.” We find out 

that Susan, now a young woman, has decided that her adventures in Narnia were childish 

fantasy, and mocks her siblings in persisting to talk about Narnia.  Shocking to be sure; but it fits 

with the Lord’s words in today’s Gospel, “I do not know where you are from;” and how a 

former Queen of Narnia, an ultimate insider, can find herself cast out. 

Two points: the first is that our Faith must grow over time.  This is similar to a child’s 

relationship with a parent, which ideally matures as the child ages; such that  although – for 

example, my mom is still my mom – our relationship has a history, is filled with greater 

understanding, and has different expectations than when I was a kid.  Likewise, a child can truly 

possess real Faith, but – as a youth matures into a teenager and adult – their Faith must engage 

more mature issues; always growing in understanding and depth.  In the Narnia series, Aslan 

brought the children into Narnia to know him, to grow in virtue and to understand their own 

giftedness.  But at a certain age Aslan informs them that they are “too old” to come back to 

Narnia, and must get to know him – that is Jesus Christ – in their own world.   




 I realize it is debatable.  Edmond and Lucy are main characters in 3 books; Peter and Susan in 2.  They all appear 

in minor roles in The Horse and His Boy, and Susan does not appear in The Last Battle, but her exclusion makes her 

a “character” or “subject” in my mind. 


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The same is true for each of us.  The reasons I believe in God the Father, and Jesus 

Christ, and the Catholic Church  are different than when I was a child.  Does that make sense?  It 

is possible, as with Susan, for a child with real Faith to lose their Faith as a teenager or adult 

because they are not given  or refuse to take  the opportunities to mature in faith, and the reasons 

they believed as a child are no longer enough for Real Faith – at least a Faith that shapes their 

daily life.  There is the added and serious temptation  to drop the faith  because living the Gospel  

is massively inconvenient  for teens and adults today.  That is what I believe happened with 


The second point is  that although the question “Lord, will only a few people be 



 is a haunting one, notice that the Lord Jesus does not answer it directly; rather He tells 

us that WE need to “strive to enter the narrow gate;” the gate that Susan’s siblings and all the 

other “friends of Narnia” entered in The Last Battle.  What about Susan, though?  A young 

reader once wrote C.S. Lewis about Susan’s apparent damnation; and Lewis replied: 

“The books don’t tell us what happened to Susan. She is left alive in this world at 

the end, having by then turned into a rather silly, conceited young woman. But 

there’s plenty of time for her to mend and perhaps she will get to Aslan’s country 

in the end . . . in her own way.” 

We don’t know.

  Likewise, Jesus does not answer the question about salvation, but tells us 

mind our own business, and strive for the narrow gate.  And very appropriately, given Narnia, 

whenever children ask Aslan  about other people’s journeys or fate, Aslan always says some 

form of the following: 

“Child, I am telling you your story, not [theirs], I tell no one any story but his 


It is a mistake to be preoccupied with those not seeming to strive for the narrow gate; we 

know that there will be judgment, but we also know the Lord is infinitely merciful.  We need to 

be about our own business, intentionally following Christ above all else.  One of the biggest traps 

in life  is to be worried  or distracted about what other people are doing  or thinking – this takes 

many forms, but 2 main ones I see:  



Not doing what we need to be doing in our Christian life, because it inconveniences 

family members, or might make family or friends think we are overly religious. 


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Given today’s Scriptures, comparing ourselves to supposed “outsiders,” and 

rationalizing that any perceived insider status – be that “catholic,” or St. Luke 

parishioner, or practicing Catholic, or disciple, or member of the Club of “Nice 

People,” or member of any specific committee or service work – will get us to heaven 

by itself.   




Dear Friends in Christ, the good news of today’s message is that there are no true 

insiders, meaning that no one is excluded or unqualified to seriously enter into a relationship 

with Christ, and follow Him as Lord.  It is never too late to begin  or to seek, or to pursue and 

examine those barriers to our full-hearted Faith.  All are welcome, but none are welcome on their 

own terms.  As I have said before, Jesus does not want anything from us, He simply wants us.  

He doesn’t want anything from us, He simply wants us.  Those are His terms.  St. Bernard of 

Clairvaux, who the Church celebrated


yeserday said; “The sole purpose of [God’s] love is to 

BE loved, in the knowledge that those who love him are made happy BY their love of 


As we celebrate the Eucharist today, the Banquet of Christ’s great love, let us commit to 

love in return  knowing that only God’s  love and our response to it  fulfills our deepest desires.  

Let us strive for the narrow gate, eyes fixed on the prize, so that when we knock, we may hear 

“well done good and faithful servant…enter into the joy of Your Master.”






 Matthew 25: 21; 23 

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