Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Narrow Door

Reflections on the Readings
Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time - August 22, 2010, Year C
Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost
By Dennis S. Hankins

The Narrow Door

And he said to them, "Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able." - Jesus

Today's Gospel reminds us why God says, "Today is the day of salvation."  Other exhortations come to mind, such as, "Harden not your hearts," or "Seek the Lord while he may be found." 

One day time will be no more. The opportunities to seek and to know the Lord will end.  For once the householder (Jesus) shuts the door, some will be standing outside, knocking on the door begging to get in.

And He will answer, "I do not know you."

"But Lord, don't you remember us?  We ate and drank in your presence, and we sat at your feet as you taught us!  Don't you remember us?"

I've heard it said before that when we get to heaven, we'll see some we didn't think had a chance.  And as we look around, we'll notice someone missing we thought surely would make it.  One thing I do know.  I hope to be among the 'last who are first.'  I sure don't want to be among the 'first who are last.'  

Just this past week a friend of mine said that his father-in-law wouldn't go to Church much anymore.  I asked, "Why won't he go to Church now?" 

 "Too many hypocrites," his father-in-law says.  I think his father-in-law should just join the rest of us sinners!  The narrow door does not discriminate, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)

It is possible to be so near something or someone, yet be so far away.  Jesus found worshippers in his day whose lips honored God; but their heart was far from him. (Mark 7:6) Writing to Timothy, Paul describes those who hold to an outward form of religion, but deny the power of it.  Yet the second reading exhorts us to receive the trials and discipline of our faith that we may 'share in His holiness.'  Such is the purpose of the Lord's discipline.  

At the time, all discipline seems painful; and offering our trials up to the Lord may seem awkward and meaningless.  However, later, in the good Lord's own time, these things yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness.  Especially this is true for those who have been disciplined by their experiences; striving for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14)

Everyone who has ever moved, knows about narrow doors.  What came out of the door of the house you left, won't go through the door of the new house.  However, the door to heaven admits folks from every tribe, tongue, people and nation under heaven; each and everyone bathed in the cleansing blood of Jesus' sacrifice.  

In fact, it is Jesus who says they will come from east and west, and from north and south, and sit at table in the kingdom of God.  The door of salvation is a gracious and welcoming door; but some still think it is too narrow.

Yet the narrow door into the Kingdom of God hangs on two hinges.  Only two.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.


You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

These two hinges, these commandments of God, swing the narrow door of salvation open wide to anyone who is willing to love God and love his neighbor.

Indeed, let us strive to enter by the narrow door, for it is the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:11)


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