21ST SUNDAY: LUKE 13: 22-30‘
In today’s gospel reading, someone asked Jesus, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” Who will be saved? What does Jesus mean, when He tells us to enter through the narrow gate? Will He welcome us or will He turn us away? These are good questions and our readings give us interesting answers. In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah tells us: “The Lord does not exclude anyone but gathers all the nations of every language.”
In the second reading, in the letter to the Hebrews, we are told: “Do not lose your hearts and accept difficulties as God’s discipline.” Such discipline is a true opportunity to grow as true children of God. We all experience different kinds of sufferings in our lives — some of us more than others — and we are all in good company because Jesus suffered, too. But in our sufferings, God is always with us. All our sufferings and difficulties must be seen as gifts of a loving God and an opportunity to bring forth the peaceful fruits of righteousness.
What does “being saved” mean? To be “saved” means living in the grace of God and having loving relationships with God and others. How many will be saved? Jesus answered them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate.” Many will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough!
Rabindranath Tagore, who was an Indian poet, philosopher, artist and Nobel Prize winner, wrote a story about a man, who was searching for God. One day, on his journey, the searcher saw God by the side of a star from faraway. He was so happy and excited about this and he traveled and reached the star; but by the time he reached the star, God had moved to another star. So, with disappointment, he continued on his journey to search for God. And, to his surprise one day, he reached a house in a faraway place with a small sign in front of the house that read, “This is the house of God.” But, he had to climb so many steps to reach the house. So, he started to climb the steps; as he was coming closer and closer to the house to knock on the door, suddenly fear appeared in his heart. His fear was about this: “If this house is certainly the house of God, then what do I do after I have found God! What I am going to do with God?” To search for God was the only thing he did in his life. With fear, he decided to go back and he thought that when he went back, God might call him back. He knew God’s home but he avoided this home and he was still searching for God everywhere! Deep down, he knew that his search was not for God; but his search was to nourish his ego! He did not want to enter into the life of Jesus and he did not want to take any risk! In our lives, too, like this searcher, we have faith in God and we want God; but we are afraid of drawing closer to God.
“Enter through the narrow gate,” means our own everyday living and our relationships with God and with one another. Narrow gate means our daily struggles, daily crosses, surrendering to the Grace of God, living God’s life, and the willingness to walk the path of love, and to practice spiritual discipline. Jesus Himself is the narrow gate! Enter through the narrow gate: it is up to our own decisions and choices and it is very hard; many find this to be extremely difficult and many simply reject it. Most of the time, we prefer to go through the larger gateway of hatred, revenge, and pride.
Every family should have the spirit of the narrow gate. When we enter through the narrow gate, we have to bend down and be closer to each other and this will bring us the spirit of the narrow gate. The narrow gate atmosphere teaches us to avoid selfishness and pride and find a place for others to enter through the narrow gate. Do not forget that when we enter through the narrow gate, we will be reaching to God on the other side of the gate!
In order to pass through the narrow gate, we need to unburden the things that weigh us down: our evil ways, bad attitudes, selfishness, and unbalanced love for material things. Let us try to walk the path of love, surrendering to grace and allowing this grace to flow through us to the wider world. The good news is that we do not struggle alone; we have God with us and God’s grace is sufficient for us!