The Narrow Gate

The Narrow Gate

In this short homily for 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, Father Hanly helps us understand the meaning of The Narrow Gate.

Readings for Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

  • First Reading: Isaiah 66:18-21
  • Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 117:1, 2
  • Second Reading: Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13
  • Gospel: Luke 13:22-30

Written Homily

Today St. Luke introduces Jesus by describing briefly his mission saying:

Jesus passed through towns and villages,
teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem.

Someone asked him along the way: “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” This from a person of high standing.

Jesus was annoyed, and answered the man rather abruptly: “Strive to enter through the narrow gate.”

And that’s why Jesus is annoyed by the question. Because, as they used to say in the ’60s, we not only do not have the answers, we don’t even know the proper questions.

And the question of whether the correct number of the saved or the lost will be available on the last day probably never entered Jesus’ mind.

But people want to know what’s going to happen when we die.

And you can just see Jesus nodding his head and saying it doesn’t matter what happens after you die. What really matters is here and now, how you learn to live and to love each other, that is if you still have time for love in your busy schedule.

We can and we must leave the future to God. He’s the one who will decide such things.

“And why should you be worried?” Jesus asks us. “Have I not already told you that I will be with you all days even to the consummation of the world?”

“Strive to enter through the narrow gate,”

“Enter through the narrow gate!” It sounds like only a handful of people will be invited to the banquet.

And yet just a few minutes ago, we all entered this church through the “narrow gate.” And we do so each and every Sunday.

We entered through the narrow gate because we wanted to come into this church and to be in this church and today to participate in this liturgy of God’s love and to celebrate with Jesus our Lord’s Eucharistic banquet.

And so we come to focus our hearts and our attention on the narrow gate, stepping gracefully into a large basilica, there to break bread together, sing sweet songs, and become the children of God.

Michael Jordan, the basketball player whom just about everybody knows, used to have this wonderful saying, “If you give me five basketball players who can focus, I’ll give you the world championship.”

And that’s what the narrow gate is.

You have to maintain your focus. You have to know where you’re going and where you want to be and what choices to make.

God is leaving all the decisions to us.

Jesus is inviting us to enter by the narrow gate.

Place your life into his hands and walk with him. He will show you how to open your heart, and invite you to join him on his journey to the Holy City of Jerusalem.

Only one last thing is left to be spoken. God never locks the door. It is always open. Because God loves us and is with us here to stay.

“And people will come from the east and the west, and from the north and south, and will recline at the table in the kingdom of God. For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

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