There was a guy who lived in New York named Vinny, who seemed to know everybody. A friend of his followed him trying to see if there was anyplace they could go where nobody knew him. Everyplace they went around the neighborhood and around the city there wasn’t a single place Vinny wasn’t known.
So they tried bigger places. First they went to Yankee Stadium, got there before batting practice, and Derek Jeter noticed them, waved and said: “Hey, Vinny. How’s it going?” Then they took the train down to Washington DC and got into the White House. The President rounded the corner with the Secret Service, stuck out his hand and said: “Hey, Vinny. How’s it Going?”
Finally they went to Rome, and were standing in St. Peter’s Square. This would be the place where they didn’t know Vinny, but sure enough, one of the Swiss Guards recognized him and beckoned at him. Vinny disappeared through a door and didn’t come out again. Evening came and two figures came out on the Papal Balcony: the Holy Father himself and Vinny with his arm around him. As Vinny’s friend stood down below, he heard someone next to him say: “Hey, who’s that up there on the balcony with Vinny?”
Networking is always important, and we all want to know someone who’s well connected. When Jesus disciples ask the question about how many can be saved, they’re thinking along the lines of politics and patronage. A prominent man could support so many people; knowing how many can count on support an important one. Setting the pecking order is important, knowing who will be on the inside, who will be on the outside. Everybody close to the King would get a share of the riches and power, and they need to know now what the number will be, so they can start working things out. But Jesus blows this apart when he talks about who will be saved: knowing Him and being personally close to Him is no guarantee. Having Jesus live down the street or show up at the same dinner table isn’t a guarantee of preferential treatment: Jesus isn’t into networking. It isn’t about who you know in the Kingdom of God, but how you follow him.
Our readings talk about myriads of people coming to faith, so it’s tough to work this out, how many can be saved. Jesus really doesn’t put a limit on the number, set a goal to meet. It’s not just about being physically close to Jesus, being a right place on Sunday mornings. It’s about how we respond to Christ that makes the difference, and there’s no limit of how many can come forward.
Jesus opens the door for us in the Eucharist, he comes to us and enters our hearts, enters our minds. Eucharist opens door, but we have to walk through. It’s not enough just to get our tickets stamped, or our cards scanned. It’s being affected by our experience with Christ here in our service, where we find God as we travel. Jesus looks for us to imitate Him and serve our neighbors as He would. The networking we’re called to be part of is the Body of Christ, which is here to transform the World.