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Friday, 19 August 2022 17:24

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year C - 2022

Fr Elmer Ibarra 150 BestHow many of us, especially the younger generation, have thousands of Facebook friends but have never met them in person? I am sure one of them. Among our friends and acquaintances, how many of those are really our friends? I bet it would just be a handful. The question is, “Is Jesus among them?”

The gospel for today is about a question that Jesus was asked, “Will only a few be saved?” Jesus in reply, never really answered the question Yes or No. Instead, he gave this advice, “Strive to enter the narrow gate”. When Jesus says, “Strive to enter the narrow gate,” it doesn’t mean that only a few can enter it means many will try but not all will be strong enough.

narrow streets of the old city in the rays of the sunWe have heard the saying, “Try to walk through the straight and narrow”. All of us are striving to do that. All of us are trying to follow the commandments of the Lord as far as we can. All of us are trying to love God and our neighbour but it is not easy. Yet, we are all encouraged by Christ to do that.

The second part of the gospel is more of a sombre reminder that the time will come that if we don’t change, time will run out. Jesus warned us that not all who said we ate and drank in your company and taught in our streets would be admitted. For salvation is more than just eating, drinking and listening to Jesus. It is all about following him and his commandments more closely. That is why Jesus is warning his fellow Jews that salvation is not just limited to the descendants of Abraham but it is extended to all people as long as they are able to enter through the narrow door.

If one is lucky enough to visit the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, before you can enter it you have to pass through the “Door of Humility”. It is a very small door, just about four feet tall and two feet wide. To be able to enter it, one must bow. In other words, one must be humble enough and get rid of all your personal baggage to be admitted. And this is what Jesus is asking us to strive for.

The third part of the gospel passage is an image of the kingdom, debunking the long-held belief by the Jews that only the “chosen people” would be saved. He gave an image of the patriarchs and the prophets in the presence of God in the kingdom. After that, people from the east and the west, from the north and the south would be reclining at table at the kingdom of God, meaning all people are welcome and will be admitted to the kingdom of God. And what an awesome sight this is.

So how could we join this company and not be left out in the dark? We have to ask ourselves, what is our relationship with Jesus Christ? Is Jesus just another “friend” in the thousands of so-called friends that we have on Facebook? Is Jesus just another acquaintance whose company we enjoy during meals and drinks but we never really take serious notice of his message? Or is Jesus a very important part in our lives whose message we don’t take for granted but rather, we make his teachings the rulebook of our lives.

No one said that being a Christian is easy. We may not have too many dietary restrictions or clothing requirements unlike other religions, but we are asked to love God and our neighbour. We are asked to give our lives in the service of everyone even our enemies.

Let us strive to continue to enter through the narrow door and we have to do it now. It may be hard and requires a lot of perseverance, however we would want to see ourselves as part of that kingdom and woe are we if we find ourselves in the dark and grinding our teeth.

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF COUNTRY

In the spirit of reconciliation, the Society of the Divine Word, Australia Province, acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea, sky, and community.

We acknowledge their skin-groups, story-lines, traditions, religiosity and living cultures.

We pay respect to their elders, past, present, and emerging, and extend that respect to all indigenous peoples of New Zealand, Thailand, and Myanmar.

We are committed to building with them, a brighter future together.