The Narrow Gate: Homily by Deacon Bill Kane

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… 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… 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.









One thought on “The Narrow Gate: Homily by Deacon Bill Kane

  1. theresahurley

    The following comment was passed on to me via email by Tim Corrigan. It is posted here with his permission.

    We live in a fabricated world of our own definitions. To imagine this world can be exciting and freeing or frustrating and confining.

    To those who felt the later, Jesus offered a rather dire answer to their query, “will only a few be saved?”

    Our Lord exhorts them to strive to enter through a gate that is narrow, fully acknowledging that many will not be strong enough to enter into that desired land. the Lord of the Universe or, this case, the master of the house locks the door and turns them away calling them evildoers, saying he does not where they are from.

    What are we to gather from the rather draconian image of the Master of the Universe/House? Is he a merciless tyrant who will only select a few of the hometown folks into his house?

    Quite the contrary, I would argue as the first reading from the Prophet Isaiah. “I come to gather nations of every language…from them I will send fugitives to the nations…”

    The word fugitive brings to my mind an outlaw type who is fleeing from the laws of the society in which he lives. He is an outcast, a stranger in his own land because he adheres to a code to which those about him reject.

    To be a Christian in today’s world in a sense is to be a fugitive. By necessity to be a Christian is to be outside the values of a society that values winning at any cost, death over life, material gain over spiritual compassion. To be a Christian in the world today is to conscientiously flee from a rose colored world that tells us we can have it all and that we deserve to be number one. It is to flee from the temptations of world that tells us we can have power, wealth, and glory if only we efface ourselves of the original compassion we were all meant to share. To be a Christian is to flee from these temptations and put yourself beyond the boundaries of your world and, like Christ, say, “Get thee behind me Satan!

    It is said that character is formed by the process of rejecting a temptation. And perhaps this is the way it is fated to be in our fallen world. When character starts forming based upon the presentation of these temptations in a persons life is a matter of conjecture beyond the scope of this reflection. Suffice it to say, however, that these temptations present themselves early in the development of the self. Guidance and faith formation is required by the elders of the faith community if that young person is to be recognized by the Lord later in life as that one who came from the Lord.

    Deacon Kane in today’s homily used humor to bring out this point. He told the story of a lunch room monitor who places a sign over a bowl of ripe apples with the instructions to have only one. She further gives weight to this mandate by noting under these instructions that “God is watching!”

    At the other end of the cafeteria is a bowl of cookies. Over this bowl she didn’t leave a note presumably because by the time the students had reached this part of the cafeteria they would have eaten a nutritious lunch.

    A distracted boy, however, not interested in apples or any other healthy food proffered, found his way to the bowl of cookies, gobbled a mouthful and left his own sign over the bowl that read, “have all you want, God is watching the apples!’

    Sometimes I think that we as the adults who are to teach the ways of this narrow gate of Christ’s message follow the message of the distracted boy by letting our children be filled with the junk food values that flood them from our secular world. Like the person overweight because not from lack of food but from the lack of good food our inadvertent laziness by not enforcing and encouraging the traditions and inspirational worshipping of our Catholic culture leads to a world construct for our children that Christ would reject and would make our children unrecognizable to him.

    God is indeed watching the apples! They are the first fruits of His creation. And as such they need the discipline and nutrients of an educational foundation worthy of being called one, holy and catholic.
    Tim Corrigan


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