YEAR C: HOMILY FOR THE 21ST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: NARROW GATE
BY: Fr. Gerald M. Musa
HOMILY: Someone asked Jesus a question: “Will those who are saved be few?’ If you put this question differently, it could be rephrased thus: “Would heaven be only for a few people?” You may have encountered some street preachers who stop you and ask this blunt question: ‘Are you saved?’ My answer: “I am saved, I am being saved and I have the strong hope of attaining salvation. This is to say that my salvation is guaranteed through the grace of the death and resurrection of Christ or as the scripture states ‘It is by grace you have been saved through faith’ (Ephesians 2:5, 8).
Lest we forget, salvation is also an on-going process as we are confronted by temptations and trials and for this reason we are advised: ‘continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). Thus, the crown of glory is reserved for those who carry the cross to the end. The gospel of Matthew puts it clearly when it states ‘those who persevere to the end will be saved (Matthew 24:13). There is a good reason to walk humbly towards salvation. Otherwise, those who proudly think they stand secure may fall (1 Corinthians 10:11-12).
Jesus made it clear to the Jews that salvation is not reserved for them alone but it is an open invitation by God to all people in every space and time. Those who heard the gospel first may be the last to be saved if they take their faith for granted and those who received the gospel late and take it very seriously to the end may be considered first. This is why Jesus said some are last who will be first and some are first who will be last (Matthew 19:30; 20:16).
Furthermore, there are two vital conditions that are necessary for those who wish to be saved: They must be willing to mould and shape themselves for entry into the narrow gate. Secondly, they must allow themselves to be moulded and shaped by God. Passing through the narrow gate means going through the path of hardship, sorrows, disappointments and temptations. The narrow gate means crucifying our selfishness as well as the passion of lust and anger. St. Thomas Aquinas says: “Three things are necessary for the salvation of man: to know what he ought to believe; to know what he ought to desire; and to know what he ought to do.”
It is also important to know that ‘The Lord disciplines him whom he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives (Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13). The Lord likens his discipline to those of parents for their children. God allows us to pass through the school of hard knocks and tough love in order to understand the true meaning of life. Parents and guardians, who send their children to school, do so in order to prepare their children for a great future. In addition, God’s discipline is similar to the prescription of the Doctor, which is sometimes painful and bitter, but brings about a better result.
21st Sunday of the Year C/Isaiah 66:18-21; Hebrews12: 5-7, 11-13; Luke 13:22-30