Homily, Wednesday of Week 30II
“Will only a few people be saved?” This sounds like a yes-or-no question, and any of us would be very interested to know the answer. But Jesus doesn’t answer with yes or no. Jesus knows us too well for that. It wouldn’t actually help us much to know whether few or many will be saved. Jesus is more concerned that we know how to come to salvation. The question in today’s Gospel is basically this: Lord, what are my chances of getting to heaven? And Jesus replies: That depends. That depends on your mentality. Are we willing to strive to enter through the narrow gate? Are we willing to humble ourselves, to follow Christ in humble service? Or do we, instead, cling to our social status and family connections?
Those who were shut out of the heavenly banquet in the Gospel say to Jesus, “We ate and drank in your company, and you taught in our streets.” They met Jesus Himself, in the flesh, but that was not enough if their encounter with Christ did not leave their own lives transformed. So even if your aunt met Padre Pio, or if we meet Pope Francis, this isn’t enough. Associating with holy people is not enough unless we ourselves become holy. The crowds in the Gospel were descendants of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the prophets, but their family connections were not enough to get them in. And even if our family has been Catholic for 20 generations, that doesn’t automatically give us an advantage.
We must not depend upon our status or our connections, but instead, make ourselves small enough to fit through the narrow gate, following Christ in humble service, by serving the poor in Rome, by providing for pilgrims, by caring for the sick, visiting the lonely and those in prison, by caring for aging parents and relatives, by sharing the Gospel in our homes and in our workplaces, and by treating with love and patience even those people whom we can hardly stand to be around, those who constantly rub us the wrong way.
One of the reasons that Jesus gives Himself to us, through the words of the Bible and in Holy Communion, is so that we can be His hands and His feet in the world today, so that He can love, through us, everyone we meet, and so that we can love them with the love of Christ Himself. Jesus wants to live in us and work through us to bring His Gospel of love to the world today. Strive to enter through the narrow gate, and Christ will provide all the strength you need.