Jesus Christ reminds us of at least three things in this Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 13:22-
30). First, Heaven exists – and it is like a banquet in the Kingdom of God, the way
Jesus describes Salvation and Eternal Life in the Gospel. Second, hell exists – and Jesus tells us that hell is outside the banquet, where there is wailing and grinding of teeth, images of being cut off forever from friendship with God. And third, we can strive to follow Jesus Christ to Life Eternal in Heaven, entering through the narrow gate when we cooperate with God’s grace (His divine power, love and mercy). Surely, we realize that we cannot earn our salvation, and we certainly don’t deserve it, but we do not want to lose this gift from God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, by not cooperating with His grace, by not following Him.
To cooperate with God’s grace and follow Him means more than knowing and
believing in Jesus Christ (for even Satan and his followers knew and believed in Jesus,
but that did not save them). Disciples of Jesus Christ not only know and believe in Him, but also love, serve and follow the Lord, in a friendship with Christ that leads to eternal life, peace, joy and love in Heaven. Most of us realize that human friendships require effort, self-sacrifice, time and energy – how much more for our friendship with Jesus Christ, the Only Savior of the world. In this context, then, to strive for the narrow gate that leads to Salvation means that we are striving by God’s grace to know, love, serve and follow Jesus – embracing His grace, turning away from sin, being faithful to the Gospel, living the virtues of faith, hope and love in our relationship with Christ and with our brothers and sisters. And Jesus Himself helps us to enter the narrow gate with His gifts of prayer, the Sacraments, His Word, His Teachings and His Church and communion of saints – all conduits of His grace that change us and conform our life to Him, to God who is Love.
In the Gospel today, someone asks Jesus if only a few people will be saved. Jesus does
not give a number, but He changes the focus from the general to the individual. He looks at His questioner and says, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate.” Then Jesus tells a parable that emphasizes individual responsibility by showing that on Judgment Day there will be a lot of surprises – the first will be last, and the last will be first. Clearly, Jesus tells us to take seriously the gift of this life that He has given us and that He wants us to be responsible for how we live it. Yes, Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth
and the Life, leading us to Heaven – yet He requires that we let Him lead us, so that we can cooperate with His grace and follow Him.
With peace and prayers in Christ,