XXI SUNDAY OF THE YEAR
isaiah 66:18-21; hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13; luke 13:22-30
a few years ago, paul roediger, an american, was beaten up for entering the jagannath temple in puri. outside a place of worship in south india hangs a signboard that reads: «no entry for dogs and christians.» shocking indeed!
but, there are other places with equally shocking «no entry» signboards even if these are less obvious and sometimes invisible: some churches in india do not allow dalit christians. in anumanthanpatti in south india, they have a separate cemetery and an exclusive hearse.
it was similar in biblical times! the jews, especially the pharisees and scribes, had a «no-entry» sign on the gate of heaven: «no-entry» for non-jews, for tax collectors and prostitutes, for those broke the smallest of the commandments… the kingdom of heaven was exclusively for the «chosen ones».
this attitude prompts the question we hear in today’s gospel: «will those who are saved be few?»
jesus, typically, does not answer the question. he refuses to speculate on who’s in and who’s out. rather, he looks forward to the time when people will come from east and west and from north and south, and sit at table in the kingdom. he looks forward to the fulfilment of isaiah’s vision (in the first reading, isaiah foretells a time when people from all nations – and on all modes of transport – shall come to jerusalem).
the «no-entry» signs are off; jesus’ signboard reads: everyone’s invited; there are neither reserved places nor favoured people. but there is the fine print: entry is restricted to those who choose the «narrow gate»! we have to walk his way of the cross and keep his commandment of love.
all of us have «no-entry» signboards!
what are the «no-entry» signs in my life? whom do i exclude from my circle of life, from my circle of relationships?
what does the «narrow gate» mean for me? am i ready to choose the discipline of the narrow gate?