Tuesday, October 25, 2016

THE NARROW GATE


Homily for Oct. 26th, 2016. Luke 13:22-30.

ALord, will only a few people be saved?@ Jesus is asked in our gospel reading. The question was asked out of mere curiosity. Jesus never answered such questions. Here he turns to a different question B and a far more important one: AHow can I be saved?@ Many, he warns, will not be saved. People who are complacent, who think they can postpone their decision for God, will find themselves shut out from God=s presence. Many others, however, who do not belong to God=s chosen people, will be saved, Jesus says. APeople will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the kingdom of God.@ God offers salvation not just to one people, but to all peoples. The lesson for us Catholics is clear. A Catholic baptismal certificate and attendance at Sunday Mass do not guarantee salvation. Our Catholic faith must produce fruits in daily life. If it does not, we too risk hearing one day the terrible words in today=s gospel: AI do not know where you are from.  Depart from me, all you evildoers!@

AStrive to enter through the narrow gate,@ Jesus says. That Anarrow gate@ stands for every situation in which God=s demands weigh heavily on us and seem too hard to bear. Our trials and sufferings are the homework we are assigned in the school of life. Our teacher in this school is Jesus Christ. Whatever trials and sufferings we encounter, his were heavier. Jesus never promised that God would protect us from trials and sufferings. He promises that God will be with us in trials and suffering. 

Today=s gospel begins by saying that Jesus was Amaking his way to Jerusalem.@ For Jesus, our teacher in life=s school, Jerusalem meant Calvary. There he passed through his Anarrow gate.@ There he had his final examination in life=s school. John=s gospel tells us that Ain the place where [Jesus] was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb ...@ (19:41). In that garden tomb, hard by Calvary, the Lord=s heartbroken friends laid his dead body on Good Friday afternoon. From that tomb Jesus was raised on the third day to a new and glorious life beyond death. He had passed his final examination. He had graduated. For him there would be no more school, no more examinations, no more suffering.

Jesus invites us to walk the same road he walked. Here in the Eucharist, he gives us the food we need for our journey. He invites us to make our way to Jerusalem, there to pass through our narrow gate to Calvary B but beyond Calvary to resurrection and the fullness of eternal life with him.