21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading I: Isaiah 66:18-21 II: Hebrews 12:5-7,11-13
22 He passed through towns and villages, teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem.
23 Someone asked him, "Lord, will only a few people be saved?" He answered them,
24 "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.
25 After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, 'Lord, open the door for us.' He will say to you in reply, 'I do not know where you are from.'
26 And you will say, 'We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.'
27 Then he will say to you, 'I do not know where (you) are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!'
28 And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves cast out.
29 And people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the kingdom of God.
30 For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last."
(v.22) By going to Jerusalem, Jesus is faithful to his mission: fulfilling his Father's will even when that means suffering and death. He also instructs his disciples on the various dimensions of the Christian way.
(v.23) " ... a few people be saved". Jesus changes the focus from the number of people who will be saved to who will be saved: anyone who enters through the narrow gate.
(v.24) "strive to enter" indicates both the effort on the part of those seeking salvation and the judgment that not all will achieve their goal.
Narrow gate. Jesus himself is the gate (see John 10:7). We are saved by identifying ourselves with Jesus even if that means we must die to ourselves.
(v.25) The narrowness of the door is not the only obstacle, time is also critical: "After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door". Then no one, not a few (23) not many (24) and not you (25) will be able to enter.
"strong enough". Strength here is not the physical strength to push open a heavy gate but the spiritual strength to remain faithful to our call to discipleship and follow Jesus to Jerusalem.
(v.27) Disciple of Jesus demands more than superficial acquaintance with him and his teachings. It means we must share in his life, take up his mission to die and rise with him.
(v.29) The Kingdom of God is seen as a banquet. Those who do not want to commit themselves to Jesus' teachings find themselves on the outside. In his generosity, God opens the banquet to all peoples, from the east and the west.
(v.30) Becoming last is a metaphor for dying to self, to enter through a narrow gate. This is what Jesus asks that the first become the last.
One Main Point
We gain eternal salvation by being faithful disciples, by dying to ourselves and following Jesus to Jerusalem.
To strive to enter through a narrow gate, what changes do I need to make in my life that I have been putting off?
In what way am I called to become last?