HOMILY FOR THE 21ST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C (7)







HOMILY FOR THE 21ST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C

THEME: SPIRITUAL DEMOCRACY

BY: Fr Andrew Ekpenyong

HOMILY FOR SUNDAY AUGUST 21 2022

 

1. Undecided Voters. There are 2 candidates in this spiritual election of our path in life: Narrow Gate versus Wide Gate. It seems we also have undecided voters in this spiritual election. Here’s a joke on that. A man was dying in a hospital trauma room. The hospital chaplain, a priest, began preparing him for his departure. Whispering firmly, the priest said, “Denounce the devil! Let him know how little you think of his evil!” The dying man said nothing, so the priest repeated his advice. Still the dying man said nothing. The priest asked, “Why do you refuse to denounce the devil and his evil?” The dying man said, “Until I know where I’m heading, I don’t think I ought to aggravate anybody.” Some undecided voters (not all) seem to want to know who will win before they vote so that they can end up on the winning side. Sorry, that’s not how it works.

2. Narrow Gate. In today’s Gospel reading, (Lk 13:22-30), the fellow who asked our Lord that question, sounded a bit like the dying man in the trauma room or like an undecided voter. He asked: “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” He wanted to know the outcome of Divine Judgement before deciding his level of commitment. Perhaps he hoped to feel some relieve if the answer was: “Not a few but very many people will be saved”. But our Lord used his question to address something more important and decisive: our own choice of Heaven or Hell in the ordinary choices of our daily lives. Our Lord used the metaphor of gates and roads (in both Mt 7:13-14 and Lk 13:23-24). “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.” Notice that our Lord’s response is directed to the person who asked the question. Start by ensuring that you choose the narrow gate yourself. So the journey into the Kingdom of God can be seen as a spiritual election. Interestingly, our Lord indicates that many will want to choose Heaven, but will not follow through their choice with appropriate action. Many will accept the narrow gate which is Jesus Himself but will fall short of true discipleship. No wonder our Lord further clarified as we heard that some will even remind Him of having been His followers: ‘We ate and drank in your company, and you taught in our streets.’ True discipleship involves discipline and challenges as we heard in today’s 2nd reading (Heb 12:5-7, 11-13): “…for whom the Lord loves, He disciplines”. It is the discipline of the narrow gate.

3. Good news. Sisters and brothers, let’s make no mistake about it. Salvation is a free gift of God which we receive through faith in Jesus Christ. That faith in Jesus Christ invites us to good works, to discipleship, to righteousness. Every day, we are presented with opportunities to choose the narrow gate that leads to eternal life. In Mt 7:13 our Lord explains why some people in their daily lives choose the wide gate: “For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.” Sadly, it seems when many attempt the narrow gate and find it hard, they go for the easy and wide gate. Yet, there is good news. The question “…will only a few people be saved?”, has been answered elsewhere in Scripture: (Rev 7:9-10) “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!'” Thus, many will succeed to go through Jesus Christ, the narrow gate, into eternal life. The important thing is for each of us to be in that multitude. C. S. Lewis expresses it in terms of three surprises in Heaven: “Who’s there; who’s not; and the fact that you’re there.” We thank God for giving us the opportunity to elect where to spend eternity and the grace to elect or choose Heaven in our daily actions. To God be the glory. Amen.

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