Vol.5 No.50 DoM Gospel Reflection
21st Sunday Ordinary Time—21 August 2016
Luke 13: 22-30
I know that everyone in this room has at some time taken I-10 East towards Baldwin County on a Friday afternoon. At some parts of the journey there are up to 4 or 5 lanes of traffic heading for the narrow entrance of the Wallace Tunnel. As we travel, we must be aware of the dangers on our right and left, behind us and ahead of us. And, if you don’t leave early, and prepare early, you might miss your destination. The path is wide, but the gate is narrow.
In Luke’s gospel for the 21st Sunday in ordinary times, the Lord was asked “will those who are saved be few?” And He said to them “strive to enter by the narrow door, for many, I tell you will seek to enter and will not be able.”
So often we are filled with good intentions and ideas, but somewhere along the way we get distracted and get off track. It seems to me that life gets more complicated with each passing day. We need to slow down and get back on track and listen to the gospel teachings.
The gospels, leading up to next Sunday’s gospel, have been teaching us how to get through the narrow gate. If we would only follow Jesus’ teachings, the journey would not be as difficult. I said “as difficult”. Life is not easy. Bad thing happen to good people, But if you have followed Jesus’ teachings, the good people can and do work through their difficulty.
Doing what YOU want to do, and going where YOU want to go, sometimes leads us down the wrong path. Spiritual discipline is necessary to pass through the narrow gate. And the more we give in to those temptations, the easier it becomes a part of who we are. Bad habits are like extra pounds. They add-up quickly. Spiritual discipline like physical fitness, takes discipline.
Often in those early years when life is so busy with school, social events, starting a new job, starting a family, etc., there is a tendency to delay spiritual discipline. Early preparation in everything is the key to success. Will you be ready to enter?
The salvation of your eternal soul should not be a casual subject. It requires our earnest effort; our urgent attention; and our careful self-examination. You need to take great pains to ensure that you enter by the “narrow gate”. Our own sin is the greatest threat to entering the kingdom of God. Temptations to sin are present in everyday normal life. Striving to enter through the “narrow gate” by overcoming sin is a lifelong, all day, everyday calling.
Jesus warns us of the temptations in life, and He demands serious vigilance. The command “to watch” is one of His most frequent commands. The idea that we must be awake, and alert, and ready, least the temptations of life take us off guard is real. Jesus said to His disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, “watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak (Mark 14:38). The key word of all of life is “WATCH, BE ALERT.”
Shy away from people and things that dull our spiritual alertness and vigilance. Jesus’ demand for vigilance is directed more often at the pleasures of life rather than the pain of life. Some people are driven away from God by their pain, but more people are lured away from God by their pleasures. Pleasures seldom awaken people to their need for God; pain often does. So Jesus is more concerned to warn us about the dangers of prosperity than the dangers of poverty.
As we heard about three weeks ago in Luke’s gospel, Jesus told the crowd “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one maybe rich, ones life does not consist of possessions.” And as to the man who built larger barns to store his grain and other goods, He said “you fool this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?” Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves, but are not rich in what matters to God.
Our entrance through the “narrow gate” is Jesus Christ. He alone is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life. NO one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6). The entrance is narrow but inclusive, all are invited. However, many will try to enter but not be able. The door which Jesus had in mind was himself. “ I am the door; whoever enters through me will be saved.” (John 10:9). Through the cross Jesus opens the way for us to enter into his kingdom. But we must follow Jesus in the way of the cross. To enter the kingdom of God one must struggle against the forces of temptation and whatever would hinder us from doing the will of God (even apathy, indifference and compromise). The good news is that we do not struggle alone. God is with us and his grace is sufficient. As we strive side by side for the faith of the gospel Jesus assures us of complete victory. DO YOU TRUST IN GOD’s GRACE AND HELP, ESPECIALLY IN TIMES OF TESTING AND TEMPTATION?
LET US PRAY: LORD GIVE ME THE COURAGE AND STRENGTH TO RESIST TEMPTATIONS, ESPECIALLY TEMPTATIONS TO COMPROMISE OR TO BE INDIFFERENT TO YOUR WORD.
Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Luke 13:22-30
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
Michael Voris (journalist/author) – American Roman Catholic