The Gospel According to Luke 13:22-30
Jesus passed through towns and villages, teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” He answered them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, ‘Lord, open the door for us.’ He will say to you in reply, ‘I do not know where you are from.’ And you will say, ‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’ Then he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!’ And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God and you yourselves cast out. And people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the Kingdom of God. For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”
Opening Prayer: Almighty ever-living God, increase our faith, hope, and charity, and make us love what you command, so that we may merit what you promise. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever. Amen,
Encountering Christ: The gospels make it clear that our destiny depends on the outcome of our encounter with Christ. He is the means by which we will be saved; that salvation depends on whether or not we ‘know’ Jesus. Simply claiming to have spent time with him does not count.
It is worthy of note to compare this text with similar gospel passages about human destiny. The story of the rich man and Lazarus, implies (without stating plainly) that the rich man is condemned because he did not look after Lazarus. Similarly, in Matthew 25, people are redeemed or condemned insofar as they tended to the needs of the vulnerable (the naked, sick, imprisoned, and the hungry.) Whether they recognized the face of Jesus in the person they helped (or did not help) makes no difference. The poor become the measure of the judgment we will receive. We stand or fall on how well we have responded to their needs.
Jesus had a clear destination. He was …making his way to Jerusalem. He knew that his mission was to culminate in his self-offering on the cross for the world’s redemption. And even though he kept busy on the way, Jesus passed through towns and villages, teaching as he went; he never lost sight of that destination. So many other voices try to distract us. So many false promises vie for our attention. We sometimes are so easily distracted. As Disciples of Christ, we should learn from our Master and renew our commitment every single day to continue our journey to our true destination. Knowing Jesus and having a good relationship with him is at the heart of our faith. Some felt that they were privileged and had the inside track as Jesus was one of them, but Jesus was indicating something more than that. His way is open to all people of good will.
The question posed to Jesus in today’s Gospel is one that continues to be posed in every generation: Lord, will only a few people be saved? Jesus doesn’t really give a direct answer to this question. Rather, he turns the tables. We don’t really need to know how many people will make it to heaven. What we need to be concerned about is our own journey, our own fidelity to God’s grace. Jesus encourages us to stay humble, to take good care of our own souls first. Strive to enter through the narrow gate. He implies that in this fallen world it isn’t so easy to be a faithful disciple of Jesus: …many… will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. Being Christ’s disciple is not complicated—he himself summed it up in two commandments: love for God and love for neighbor. God’s grace will never fail us. We just need to stay humble, to stay focused, to make good use of the many means for spiritual growth the Church offers us, and trust that God will do the rest.
Closing Prayer: Loving God, we strive to enter through the narrow gate of your friendship— narrow because to be your faithful friend we have to stay humble, to stay small, to become once again like a child, trusting more in you than in ourselves. We want to live with the upbeat joy of hope always shining in us and through us. Teach us, Lord, so that we may never be separated from you.
Action of the day: Lord, today by your grace, help us to seek out those that are poor in spirit as well as those who have lost their way, as we travel throughout our workplace as well as in out own neighborhoods.