Our Gospel reading this weekend has two warnings for those of us who consider ourselves religious, that is, practicing our religion.
The first warning is that we must “strive to enter by the narrow gate.” The word used for “strive” means “struggle with all your strength.” To make sure that we understand that He means we must be struggling with all our strength to truly live Gospel values, Jesus adds the story of those who are locked outside complaining that they ate and drank with the master, but the master declares “I do not know you.” In other words, going to Mass (eating and drinking) and performing religious rituals will not get us through the narrow gate. They are critical supports, but we must be living a life of love of God shown through love of neighbor. Otherwise, we are deluding ourselves.
Second, we can feel “holier than thou,” believing we are better than others, that we will be saved and they will not. Jesus warns about this by saying people will come from all directions to sit at the table in the Kingdom of God, while those locked out, mentioned above, are wailing and grinding their teeth. We need to be careful not to put
ourselves in and others out.
The bottom line is that we have to focus on our lives and not be judging and excluding others. And we have to make sure that we have the same focus that God has: showing our true love of God through love of neighbor. We need to share the time, talent, and treasure that God has freely blessed us with. We need to be compassionate and forgiving to those who have harmed us. We need to ask pardon when we have harmed others. We don’t need to be first. We don’t need to judge others. And so on.
It is a struggle to enter by the narrow gate, to live Gospel values. But we have been given Jesus as an example, we have been given the scriptures, we have been given the Eucharist as food to strengthen us, we have been given the other sacraments, we have been given the community to support us. It is important to use all these gifts, but not as ends in themselves. The ultimate question is how we lived the law of LOVE. How am I doing? God bless.
Church sign of the week: God’s way is the high way.