22 Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. 23 Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”
He said to them, 24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 25 Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’
“But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’
26 “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’
27 “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’
28 “There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. 29 People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. 30 Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”
Unlike a lot of other passages in the Bible that may require more explanation, this reading is probably the most straightforward and easy to understand. Jesus tells us the path to salvation, the path to the Father and the path to heaven is through his teachings. In John 14:7, when Thomas asks Jesus about the way to heaven, Jesus says “I am the way, the truth and the life; no one come to the Father but through me”. Today, he tells us that his way is not easy. It is going to be very difficult. Just like trying to squeeze through a narrow door is hard, so too is trying to follow his teaching.
So, how narrow is this door that Jesus is talking about and what does he mean? I am sure that we all have our opinions and thoughts around this, but I just wanted to take a few minutes to share my thoughts on today’s reading.
When I went through this reading the first thing that came to my mind was when I parked the minivan in the garage last night. I had my other car (the CRV) parked as well and I parked the minivan right next to the CRV. I turned off the engine and then opened the driver side door and tried to get out. It turned out that there was very little room for me to get out. I spent a few seconds trying to squeeze my body through and I noticed that it was beginning to hurt. I then felt that this was not worth it and so I opened the sliding door at the back of minivan and got out that way. That was definitely much easier and I was quite proud of myself.
Let’s try to apply that to our personal lives our well. We know quite well what Jesus wants of us. We have been taught time and time again and pretty much know what it means to be good. We have listened to Jesus’ teaching, heard the ten commandments and so on. But when faced with temptation and the choice between doing good and sin, how often do we actually have the courage and the strength to do what is right. Just like I took the sliding door of the minivan and came out without a scratch feeling really proud of how smart I was..how often when faced with problems in life do we take the easy way out. I am not saying that I should have tried to get out through the front door. If I did, I would probably have ended up bruising myself really bad, probably breaking the door of both the van and the CRV next to it and causing all sorts of problems;but if instead of getting out of a van the challenge that I faced was to choose between good and evil, that is exactly what Jesus is telling us is required. He tells us it is better to be broken, bruised, nailed, torn, blinded...than come out with every part of our body intact at the cost of having sinned. Salvation is in fact expensive.
Jesus is very clear about this. In Matthew 5:30, he says “And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”. In Matthew 5:39, he says “If someone slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also; 40if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well;”. In Matthew 19:24, he says “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God."
What types of challenges do we face in our lives today and what do we choose to do? And when we face these challenges, do we persevere to do what is right or do we take the easy path out through the back door.
● When faced with situations that make us angry, how often do we stay calm?
● When faced with folks who are better and more successful than us, how often do we give in to jealousy?
● When faced with situations to tell the truth, how often have we given way to lying?
● When faced with people in need of our love, our respect and our kindness - our parents, spouses, children, neighbours, orphans, widows, the weak and underprivileged, the lonely, the elderly...how often have we given them our love?
● When faced with sensuous situations, how often have we given in to lust?
● When faced with situations to speak out for justice and what is right, how often have we raised our voice?
● When faced with the need to be with our children - either for their homework, their play or another need - how often have we given in to our personal pleasures.
● When faced with the need to work hard, how often have we given way to laziness and pushed things away for later?
Those are all situations when we need to go through the narrow door. Do we push our way through the narrow door or do we give up and take the easy way out?
In this reading, Jesus tells us a few things...not just, that the path to salvation is difficult but also that it is urgent for us to get on this path. In Matthew 24:44, Jesus says, “So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” Today Jesus says, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 25 Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’
Here Jesus tells us our time on this earth is numbered. We do not know when but what we do know it can happen at any time and we should be always ready. The story that comes to my mind is an incident in the life of St Ignatius of Loyola. According to the story, St Ignatius of Loyola, while in the seminary, was playing basketball with his friends. At that time, someone running to them and tells them that something terrible has happened and everyone is going die in the next few minutes. All the brothers were really upset, they all dropped down on their knees and started to pray for their salvation. All except one. Ignatius of Loyola. Do you know what he was doing...he continued to play basketball. I heard this story a really long time back when in school and to this day I wish I can be like Ignatius of Loyola, always doing what is pleasing to God so that when the time comes for me to leave, I can leave this world with a smile knowing that I have no regrets and I gave this life everything that I possibly could.
Once again I thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts with you today and I hope this has been helpful.