A week ago Sunday Deacon Bill Kane delivered a homily on Luke’s Gospel 13: 22-30, the parable of the Narrow Gate. This has always been a difficult story for me to reconcile. I was very moved by his understanding of this passage and so am sharing it with you below. M.N.
21st Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
I have lived in this parish for 36 years…..and I have been your Deacon for over 25 years. I have come to know how narrow the gate to the Kingdom has been for many of you. I have seen the pain and the trouble and the disappointment in many of your lives. The gate is narrow…because it is not easy today to raise children. The gate is narrow…..because it is not easy to be Pro-Life in a culture of death. The gate is narrow…..because it is not easy to live with addictions. The gate is narrow…..because society does not make it easy to be a faithful Catholic. But….. I also know…that today this church is filled with people who struggle to choose the narrow gate to God’s Kingdom. And that helps me, it helps me…as Jesus said…to “strive to enter”.
But I think you and I need ….with each other’s help to remember that this narrow gate that Jesus speaks about…..isn’t narrow because God is trying to fix it so that only a few people can pass through it. No…..I think it is narrow for us because of the way we sometimes think about it!
I say that because we think sometimes of the narrow gate as something different to each of us. A little story might explain what I mean:
A bunch of children were lined up in the cafeteria of a Catholic School for lunch. At the head of the table…..there was this large pile of apples. And one of the nuns had put a note on the apples that read: TAKE ONLY ONE…..GOD IS WATCHING.
And so moving through the line to the other end of the table……was a large pile of chocolate chip cookies. And when he saw the cookies…..one of the boys quickly wrote a note and put it on the cookies that read: TAKE ALL YOU WANT……GOD IS WATCHING THE APPLES!
And I think the point of the story is that no matter how difficult or painful or problematic life is sometimes for you and me…..no matter how narrow that gate is to His Kingdom….God WANTS us to be HAPPY. I believe that Jesus always described a God who isn’t watching us like apples…..waiting to pounce on us for making a mistake. I believe that Jesus always described a God…..who wants you and me to be Happy…….even when difficulties and difficult choices make the Gate to His Kingdom seem narrow.
And I also think that if you and I are open to God in the ordinary things in life…..then what Jesus said about God becomes more real.
Many years ago…my four year old grandson Owen…..was out in the yard playing in his sandbox. And when it was time for his lunch…..he came inside and finished off a big peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Now by this time…..he was covered with sand and dirt and his face was messy and sticky from peanut butter and jelly. But he wanted to sit in my lap and talk about all the things going on in his little mind.
You and I are like Owen! God loves us…..and we have to approach God with a grimy kiss sometimes. But God looks through our messiness and our dirt. He looks through all the things that are wrong…..all the things that hurt…..and He still sees innocence and a desire to love. Jesus said God is like that! God accepts our grimy kisses and is pleased that we want to be with Him no matter what our condition or mess we are in. God grabs hold of our hands and walks with us…….it doesn’t matter to him.
What waits for us on the other side of the narrow gate is Joy. God will want to know if we found Joy in our lives…..and he will want to know if your life and my life brought joy to someone else’s life.
MAY THE PEACE OF CHRIST DISTURB US ALWAYS