August 22: 21st Sunday Ordinary Time Year C
Readings: Isaiah 66:18-21; Hebrews 12:5-7,11-13; Luke 13:22-30
The readings of this Sunday focus on God’s universal salvation, and at the same time we are warned of a complacent spirit of easy salvation. In today’s Gospel Jesus speaks about the narrow gate. It is the answer to the question: “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” Those who enter the narrow gate will enjoy the Father’s eternal banquet. Those who do not have the determination and courage to live their faith will remain outside the Master’s House. Those left outside are lukewarm and complacent Christians who had known the Master; who ate and drank with him. They had been witnesses to his teaching. But now they are outside. They thought it was their right to enter his house, but they are shut out. Through their own choice they lost relationship with the Master. As we celebrate this morning, are inside or outside. Are you in a state of grace? Are you with the Lord? That is the goal of our lives “to be with Jesus, at all times and for all eternity.” Why are we here? The answer is far deeper than just “to go to Mass.” We are here because we need to be with our Loving Lord. And we need to be with Him always, not just one hour a week in a Church, but throughout the week, wherever He can be found. Jesus speaks about people coming "from east and west, north and south" to "recline at the table in the kingdom of God," but urges us to "Strive to enter by the narrow gate." He speaks about people who thought they had it made, being locked out. Jesus wants you and me to consider the possibility that we might not be saved and challenges us with the possibility of being lost; of being outside when He shuts that door.
The Gospel therefore reminds us that we cannot afford to be complacent. Jesus uses the example of a narrow gate and a closed door to make the point. "Try your best to enter the narrow door, because I tell you many will try to enter and will not succeed" (Lk. 13:24). It is important that we reflect for a moment on why they will not succeed. You will recall that two weeks ago, we spoke about watchfulness and preparedness for the Lord's second coming. In the present text, Jesus returns to the same theme, and this time leads us to become more aware of the consequences of being found unprepared. "Once the master of the house has got up and locked the door" some will find themselves outside, knocking the door, and Jesus will answer, "I do not know where you come from". The implication here is serious. If you will have been on "vacation", away from God, Christ will certainly not recognize you. You will be a total stranger, naked, without his grace; without a wedding gown. The time for cleaning yourself will have expired, and there will be no way of sneaking in! So what message do we take home today? 1) Those who enter the narrow gate will enjoy the Father’s eternal banquet, but one has to strive to enter that narrow gate with determination as if it were a question of life and death; 2) It is not enough to be baptized. Paul reminds us today that there is a discipline to be followed; there are values to live by. 3) When that day comes, it will not be enough to claim that we went to a Catholic school or we have gone to Church every Sunday and have given our Church offering. 4) Good deeds of the past by themselves will not buy a ticket into heaven; they must be matched by a life worthy of our Christian calling. The bottom line is whether you and I will be inside or outside! The choice is mine and yours.
©2010 John S. Mbinda