Strive to enter through the narrow door

Jesus invites us to meet Him at the narrow door and follow Him wholeheartedly. Therefore, let us be happy to go through the narrow gate and centre our minds and thoughts on Jesus.

Aug 19, 2022

                          Reflecting on our Sunday Readings with Bro Selva Berentis

21st Sunday of Ordinary Time (C)
Readings: Isaiah 66:18-21;
Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13;
Gospel: Luke 13:22-30

Our readings this week make us reflect on HOW can one be saved? WHO can be saved? We all know following Jesus is not easy. The question is: why is it so difficult?

In the Gospel, Luke senses it is time again to remind the readers about the Kingdom of God. He begins by saying ‘Jesus now passes through towns and villages and is making His way to Jerusalem’. Jesus is teaching all the time and Jerusalem is where He is going to be rejected, suffer and die and on the third day, rise again. One man asked Jesus: “Are there few that will be saved?”

In His answers Jesus points to the Kingdom of God. All should strive to enter the straight gate (the narrow door) into the Kingdom of God. This straight gate is the gate of self-renunciation. Jesus declared that entry into the Kingdom can never be automatic. Rather it is the result and reward of a struggle. “Keep on striving to enter……” He said.

In the next verse, “door” conveys a very different message. Here it is a closed door, that eschatological moment (meaning death, judgement and the final destiny of the soul) when the time of opportunity is ended (vv. 25–27). There are those who think that just being Christian is enough — all is well. The difference between themselves and the others is their ignorance and blindness. But in reality, the rewards and benefits come to those living the Christian life.

The next shift of thought is that of a large gathering entering into the Kingdom, consisting of the faithful in Israel and of outsiders, that is, the Gentiles. There will be surprises in the Kingdom of God. Those who are very prominent in this world may have to be very humble in the next; those who have no recognition here may be the princes of the world to come. The door will certainly not be opened for persons whose only claim is that Jesus once visited their town or preached in their streets or that they once saw Jesus in a crowd or knew members of His family.

Luke gives us the opportunity to assess where we stand in relation to the reign of God. The standards of Heaven are not the standards of earth but beyond. Even though the Jews were the chosen people and the first, Jesus tells us that the first will be last and the last, first. Being a Christian is not good enough. The objective here is through our good works imitating Jesus Christ in our daily life. We are called to encounter Jesus in others and to be an instrument to draw them closer to God.

We pass through many doors in our lives to attain materialistic goals but fail to enter the Church through the narrow door for our spiritual growth and transformation. Why? Following the pandemic, many are still in their comfort zone and do not want to enter through the church doors. We give many excuses and are afraid to take risks. Being a disciple of Christ, what is your narrow door?

As I reflected on the Gospel message today, I realised the Seminary was my ‘narrow door’ in my journey towards priesthood and being a witness to His people.

I was afraid and many a time wanted to give up because of uncertainties — the environment was totally strange for me. I was out of my ‘comfort zone’. I experienced many difficulties and struggles to adapt to the new environment. Before entering the seminary, I was a banker. I would decide and determine what to do. I was free to go to places I liked. Now, I have to learn obedience. I told myself this place was not for me — I must have made a wrong choice. And, I decided to quit and go back to my previous job.

One day, as I was reflecting, a gentle voice was telling me — go and see this person in this room but I didn’t know exactly which room. So I went to the prayer room, opened the door and spent moments of silence with Jesus.

I was really angry; I cried, scolded and asked Him — Why Jesus? Why me? Why did you bring me here and now I am suffering! I enjoyed my life as a banker – I had such a good life! While I was praying, I could hear a voice saying – “do whatever He tells you” – Jn 2:5. I stayed in deep silence. And again I heard the voice and this time it was saying “Do not be afraid — I am with you” – Mt 28:18. After hearing these words, I was overcome with a feeling of peace and great joy. Now, with His grace, I have completed the seminary formation and am ready to be sent out as a priest.

Are you afraid to enter the door where Jesus is waiting for you? Yes, as followers of Christ, we will go thorough many struggles, pain, sufferings, temptations, betrayal, mockery, and so forth. REMEMBER — God is with us.

As the second reading tells us, those going through suffering are to remember that they are God’s children and not forgotten. We must recognise suffering as God’s loving rod of correction and comfort. Let us endure suffering as discipline and remember that through it, God is dealing with us. We are being strengthened to walk that straight and narrow path towards the kingdom of God.

Jesus invites us to meet Him at the narrow door and follow Him wholeheartedly. Therefore, let us be happy to go through the narrow gate and centre our minds and thoughts on Jesus.

(Bro Selva Berentis has completed his seminary studies and is currently doing his pastoral attachment at the Cathedral of St John the Evangelist, Kuala Lumpur.)

Total Comments:0