AUGUST 21, 2016 – TWENTY FIRST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (Cycle C)

His wordsREADINGS:   Isaiah 66: 18-21   /   Psalm 117: 1. 2   /   Hebrews 12: 5-7. 11-13   /   LUKE 13: 22-30

HIS WORD…STRIVE TO ENTER THROUGH THE NARROW GATE, FOR MANY, I TELL YOU, WILL ATTEMPT TO ENTER BUT WILL NOT BE STRONG ENOUGH… I DO NOT KNOW WHERE YOU ARE FROM… DEPART FROM ME, ALL YOU EVILDOERS! FOR BEHOLD, SOME ARE LAST WHO WILL BE FIRST, AND SOME ARE FIRST WHO WILL BE LAST…

my words…Someone in the crowd asked Jesus, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” The background of the question was the Jewish people were told in the Scriptures that in a general sense, only “a remnant” will be saved (Isaiah 10:19-22), and in another prophecy, “one-tenth of the population” will be saved (Amos 5:3). In reply, Jesus does not predict a particular sum or number of people who will be saved. For Jesus, the more important thing is that many who are making the attempt to enter through the narrow door should strive to do so. And this attempt is akin to “discipline” – a conscious and committed desire for heaven. But Jesus quickly added that salvation does not ultimately depend on human efforts but still remains a gift from God. God alone will open the door for those who are worthy. Salvation therefore is always God’s unmerited gift to men and women (Fr. Paul J. Marquez, SSP, SambuhayMissalette, August 21, 2016, p. 1).

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Brothers and Sisters, by human standards, we all dream of a happy, easy, and enjoyable life. Nobody dreams of living a poor and hard life. Among the tangible proofs of that aspiration of life is the preference to travel along the super highways or skyways or subways; the long queue of Filipino people in the Lottery or Lotto Outlets just to have the luck of making oneself a multi-millionaire in an instance; or perhaps, to be running for higher offices in government just to have the “S.O.P.” for some personal and egoist ambitions of life; and the many other lucrative offers of the other “gods”…

Brothers and Sisters, today’s Gospel is calling and pulling us to go to the other way; to “strive to enter through the narrow gate… for many will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough… “ (Lk 13:24). True enough, to go to heaven or to follow Jesus entails striving to enter through the “narrow gate” of life. To follow Jesus is not like traversing super highways or skyways or subways; to follow Jesus does not provide us the winning lottery combinations; to follow Jesus does not give us the “S.O.P.s” for our personal whims, caprices, and consumptions; but on the other hand, to follow Jesus is to make sacrifices, self-denials, austerity and simplicity of life, and the other “narrow gates” that will make us strong enough to be totally for HIM.

Yes, it is true that our goal in life is heaven, not hell. Heaven has the narrowest gate, while hell has the widest super gateways. Decide now which way you wish to enter. God has given us the gift of moral judgment and the gift of the intellect that made us higher than the sentient and sensible animals. Let us use them in order to be clear and sensible in our entry to the “narrow gate” to follow Jesus. Yes, we want to be with “Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God” (Lk 13:28), but how do we live our life now? What gate are we entering into? Yes, to be with Jesus is to be among people whom He invited “from the east and the west and from the north and the south” to be reclining with Him at the Table in the Kingdom of the Father (Lk 13:29). So let us be among the first ones to be with Jesus by our response of faith and love, and by entering into the “narrow gate” of Jesus in order for us to gain eternal life with Him in heaven.

HAPPY GRACIOUS ENTRY TO THE KINGDOM OF GOD…

By Fr. Julius C. Lupot

 



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