Jesus went through one town and village after another, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem.
Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?” He said to them,“Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able. When once the owner of the house has got up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then in reply he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’
Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I do not know where you come from; go away from me, all you evildoers!’ There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrown out.
Then people will come from east and west, from north and south, and will eat in the kingdom of God. Indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
How tempting it is to treat religion as a realm of abstract, theoretical questions, such as the one posed in today’s Gospel: “Lord, will only a few be saved?” It is a question that, not only in Jesus’ day but even down to our own, has consistently preoccupied people and sparked some of the most rancorous of debates. But notice how Jesus responds, by refusing to accept the impersonal framing of the question. What is at stake is the questioner’s own salvation. “Strive to enter through the narrow door,” Jesus replies. Because salvation consists of being drawn into personal communion with the Father, Son and Spirit, the Son comes into the world so that we might encounter him in a direct, personal way.
Those who insist on standing outside this encounter with Jesus may well have lots to say about Christianity, but it always has an empty ring to it. They are always one step removed from Christianity, because they are one step removed from Christ: “We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.” But the Son wants us to drink him in and feed on him! Not only can we dare to hope that all will at last do so, we can offer our whole lives to the Lord in service of this end.
Dear Lord, grant me the grace not to be deaf to your call, but prompt and diligent in fulfilling your most holy will. (Adapted from St Ignatius, Spiritual Exercises, #91)
—Fr. Matthew Baugh, SJPlease share the Good Word with your friends!