Isaiah 66:18-21, Ps. 117, Hebrews 12:5-7,11-13, Luke 13:22-30
“Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” (Luke 13:24)
Our opening prayer for today’s mass summarises perfectly our readings for today. It says O God, who cause the minds of the faithful to unite in a single purpose, grant your people to love what you command and to desire what you promise, that, amid the uncertainties of this world, our hearts may be fixed on that place where true gladness is found. If you are a regular reader of our newspapers, you cannot but agree with the fact that day after day, it is one shocking news after another. No one knows what the future holds.
The truth is that even though our problems are unique to us as a nation, there is no country in the world that is free of political, economic, religious, or social challenges. The world is indeed full of uncertainties. He is indeed foolish the man who places his trust in the world and fails to turn his gaze to God. This is why we pray that God may grant us a genuine love for what he has commanded and a desire for what he has promised. What is that thing which God has promised? Heaven; a place where true gladness is found.
1. Heaven is Our Salvation.
Getting to heaven is like being rescued from drowning and pulled to safety from the middle of the sea by a helicopter. The feeling of being alive again when you thought death was inevitable only a moment ago is one that brings non-negotiable joy. To eventually get to heaven after the uncertainties that abound in our world is the purest of all joys and the definition of salvation. Hence, in our Gospel passage, when someone asked Jesus if only a few would be saved, he meant to ask, if only a few people will enter heaven.
2. It is not How Many Will Enter, But How to Enter That Matters.
Jesus did not say how many will enter heaven, instead, He responds by giving us the ticket when He says: “Enter by the Narrow Door.” By giving us the ticket openly, Jesus expresses God’s desire for everyone to get into heaven. This is exactly what the prophet Isaiah speaks of in our first reading: “I am coming to gather all nations and tongues, and they shall see my glory…” It is not God’s will that anyone should be denied entrance and there isn’t such a thing as being destined for heaven, hell, or purgatory. We are the ones to choose which door to enter.
3. Sin is What Will Kick Us out of Heaven.
When the Master shuts the door, some will come saying: “we ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.” But He will say: “I do not know where you come from; depart from me, all you workers of iniquity!” The narrow door is that door that is passable only by people whose lives are free from iniquity. You cannot pass through a narrow door if you are carrying a heavy load of sin, and so to get into heaven, you must cut off your attachment to any sin or defilement.
4. Don’t Be A Church-Goer; Be a True Christian.
Consider the thousands who flock to Churches daily. Consider the number of Catholics who eat and drink in God’s presence daily and measure these figures with the number of iniquities in our society today. Just when you think you have heard the worst, something more terrible happens. The simple truth is that even though many of us are frequent at Holy Communion, we have no real connection with God. At the gate of heaven, God will deny knowing us because we refused to take our hands off evil. We tried eating our cake and having it, we thought we could serve two masters. We pretended to be good externally, but we soaked ourselves in sin in secret. On the last day, it is those things we did secretly that will count.
5. Entering the Narrow Door is Loving the Commandments of God.
The Good News is that it is not too late to repent. It is not too late for us to start walking in the light so that we can pass through the narrow door. Hence part of our opening prayer is that we should love what God commands. When we consider God’s commandments as an infringement on our personal freedom or obstacles to our innate desires, the commandments become very difficult to keep. We cannot follow the narrow door if we cannot dare to stand out from the world and be different. To enter by the narrow door is to love God’s commandments regardless of what the world thinks about them.
Our second reading encourages us to change our opinion on what we consider to be difficult. If indeed, we are aiming for heaven, then we must not resist it when God allows us to suffer bodily pain since that would represent our detachment from the baggage of sin and enable us to pass freely through the narrow door that leads to heaven. The cross symbolizes the things that Jesus Himself rejected during His temptations; power, pleasure, and prosperity. Carrying the cross may look like suffering right now, but in the end, this cross becomes the discipline I need to enter through the narrow door.
Let us pray: Almighty ever-living God, I repent today from all my iniquity. May I not be left out on the last day. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (21st Sunday in Ordinary Time. Bible Study: Isaiah 66:18-21, Ps. 117, Hebrews 12:5-7,11-13, Luke 13:22-30).
© Rev. Fr. Evaristus Abu