August 21, 2016 – Reflection for 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Narrow Gate
This week’s second reading spoke to me as both a parent and a child. I remember as a child being disciplined for some wrongdoing, always thinking it was unfair. Yet, when I became a parent, all those little disciplines I got from my mom and dad were suddenly justified. I could see much clearer the love out of which those corrections came. It’s very hard to explain to 5-year-olds why they are being punished. Only later, when the child has a little “wisdom of age” does she or he fully understand the reasoning: Love. It is the same with God. All the trials we endure in this life, the author explains, are due to the Lord’s love of us, his children. “For whom the Lord loves, he disciplines.” God gives us only what he knows we can handle. We are preparing for heaven by our responses to these trials.
In the Gospel, we have two seemingly contradictory statements. Jesus’ followers ask him how many will be saved. First, Jesus tells his disciples, “many will attempt to enter” into heaven, but “will not be strong enough.” Yet, by the end of the parable, we are given visions of many people from all over the world welcomed to the table of God. “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.” This sounds like the opposite of the warning in the beginning of the reading.
We have many ways of separating people in our society today; rich, poor, black, white, brown, gay, straight, the list goes on. However, the Gospel assures us people from all over will be welcomed into the kingdom of God. God does not have favorite people. He doesn’t make distinctions of power, nationality, age, sex, money, etc. He loves all humanity without exception. The only requirement is Jesus. When we believe in Jesus and live by his ways, we will be united with one another and God. Jesus is the narrow gate through which we are to strive for heaven.
FAN Communications Coordinator
May we strive for love, harmony and understanding in our family and community lives to be able to share with others, we pray…
May we see our fellow brothers and sisters with God’s eyes, as they are as brothers and sisters in Christ, we pray…
O God, who cause the minds of the faithful
To unite in a single purpose,
Grant your people to love what you command
And to desire what you promise,
That, amid the uncertainties of the world,
Our hearts may be fixed on that place.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
One God, for ever and ever.