Friday in the Eighteenth Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 13:22-35

Strive to Enter Through the Narrow Door

Surprises.  Sometimes you like them, and sometimes you don’t.  Here is a case when you wouldn’t.  This is because we tend to have assumptions about matters, and those assumptions always seem to place ourselves in the best light.  Here, someone asks Jesus, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?”  One wonders what would prompt such a question.  Was this person feeling insecure about his own situation?  Was he hoping Jesus would say, “Oh, just about everyone will be saved?”  Or was he hoping Jesus would say that few would be saved assuming, of course, that he would be among the few, relieved that heaven wouldn’t be crammed?

Jesus’ answer to the question does not address how many, but how to proceed: “Strive to enter through the narrow door.  For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.”  So Jesus says first that one must “strive” to enter; that is, entering the Kingdom is not as easy as parroting a prayer after someone else – it requires effort.  What effort?  Well, first, one must know which door, which we have already discovered is Jesus Christ, all other doors leading to the wrong place (John 10:7-10).  Second, walking with Christ is not easy.  There are sacrifices, temptations, perhaps even persecutions along the way.  Some will fall away.  Some will think they can wait until the last minute.  Some will think that they can live any way they want, never growing in grace, and still enter.  How surprised many will be on that great day to see people from all the world over joining the prophets in the Kingdom.  Many whom they thought they would never see will be there, while they, themselves, are cast out into darkness where “there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  I take that to mean eternal regret.  Jesus says, “Some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”  How just!  Those who have had few advantages in this world but who have lived faithfully will be first, while those of us who have squandered endless opportunities, wasting our lives collecting baubles will be last.  Strive to enter, and presume nothing.

The Pharisees attempt to scare Jesus away from entering Jerusalem, saying, “Herod is out to get you!”  Jesus is unimpressed.  He has a great mission to accomplish in which, ironically, mighty Herod will play a minor role (Luke 23:6-12).  Then the heart of Jesus is revealed in all of its longing as he laments over Jerusalem, over lost souls.  How often he would have taken them “as a hen gathers her brood under her wings – and [they] would not!”  Is “they,” “we?”  Strive to enter through the narrow door.

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