Eph 6: 1-9 / Ps 145: 10-14
Strive to enter through the narrow gate; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be strong enough.
The only words that we must fear:
“I do not know where you are from.”
The sweetest words we long to hear:
“Welcome to My Father’s Kingdom!”
Jesus went through towns and villages, teaching as He made His way to Jerusalem. Someone asked Him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?” He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be strong enough. After the owner of the house has arisen and shut the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, ‘Lord, open the door for us.’ In reply He will say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from.’ And you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ But He will say, ‘I do not know where you come from; go away from me, all you evildoers!’ There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves cast out. Then people will come from the east and from the west, from the north and the south, and will eat in the kingdom of God. Indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” (Luke 13: 22-30)
In today’s Gospel passage, our Lord was warning the Jews that the gate was closing in on them, and only those who were strong enough in their faith would be able to gain access. The opportunity for salvation was limited and becoming narrower as the Jews persisted in rejecting His teachings. That was why Jesus kept telling them that “Indeed, some are last who will be first (the Gentiles), and some are first (the Jews, considered God’s Chosen People) who will be last.” This people had become so self-assured and complacent in their antiquated traditions and practices that they had alienated themselves from God.
“Many will try to enter but will not be strong enough.” Jesus is likewise warning us that we need to be spiritually strong to enter the “narrow gate”. Jesus is the Gate (Jn.10:9). No one comes to the Father except through Him (Jn.14:6). But salvation is not for the weak and the half-hearted. Spiritual strength is needed to carry our cross and follow Him. Just as we need a regular work-out in the gym or regular aerobic walks to build physical strength and stamina, so also we need to have a regular spiritual exercise to build up the “muscles” of our soul. These exercises are: prayers, bible reading and meditation, and attending the Eucharistic celebration more than once a week. The Holy Mass is very important because it provides the spiritual nourishment that comes from Jesus Christ Himself. No supplement is more powerful. Through prayers, the Word of God, and the Holy Mass we also come to know our Lord Jesus more intimately. To those who never took the trouble, Jesus will say, “I do not know where you are from.”
It is also impossible to enter the narrow gate of salvation if we are loaded with our material possessions. Picture a monkey with its hand in a cookie jar. It cannot get its hand out of the jar because it is full of cookies, and it doesn’t want to release any of them. In the same way we must first free ourselves of all our worldly attachments before we can enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and hope to gain entry into His Father’s kingdom.
Lord God, thank You for making us understand the importance of spiritual strength and fitness that we must develop in order to withstand the temptations of the world and be prepared to enter into a closer relationship with Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. May the gifts of the Holy Spirit build up our strength, as we strive to enter Your kingdom. Amen.
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