Wednesday of Week 30 of Ordinary Time – Gospel

Commentary on Luke 13:22-30

The Gospel today speaks in terms of predestination, of those who will ultimately be saved.

Jesus is steadily making his way to Jerusalem passing through many towns and villages. It seems that at this time he is in the region of Perea, on the east side of the Jordan, on his way to Jericho and Jerusalem. He is approached by a man who wants to know if only a few will be saved. One has the feeling that he expects the answer to be ‘Yes’ and that he regards himself as being among the chosen ones.

Jesus does not answer the question directly but he implies that those who are saved are not necessarily those who regard themselves as God’s chosen ones but rather those who walk a certain path in life. That path, of course, is precisely what he is proposing through his own life and teaching. It is a narrow door, he says, which many will not be able to enter.

When the Master comes at the end to close that door for the last time, some will stand outside knocking and begging for the door to be opened. They will hear very frightening words, “I do not know where you come from.” They will counter by saying, “We ate and drank in your company. You taught in our streets.” But he still says he does not know them and tells them to go away.

Jesus was often accused of eating and drinking with sinners but it did them no good unless, as a result of their contact with him, they changed their way of living.

It is clearly not enough to be just in Christ’s company or to have heard his teaching. For example, just being a baptised Catholic or routinely fulfilling a few religious obligations (like being physically present at Sunday Mass) is not the same as really being a part of what is going on. To go in the “narrow door” is to be actively committed to living the Gospel in one’s daily life.

Jesus’ next words are directed to some of the Jews but to Christians also. They will see the great patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets enter the kingdom, not because of their status, but because of their commitment to serving God.

On the other hand, many of Jesus’ hearers will be rejected because they relied only on their ethnic and religious origins. But that is not enough. In the meantime, they will see people, Gentile outsiders from the four corners of the earth, people they rejected and despised, going ahead of them into the Kingdom, again because these people heard the call of God and entered by the narrow door that leads to life.

This was already being realised in the early Church as more and more Gentiles heard the Gospel message, were baptised and many died as martyrs. Indeed, as Jesus says at the end of today’s reading, those who were considered last are first and those who saw themselves as first are destined to be last.

It would be wrong for us to read this gospel as of mere historic interest. It is addressed directly to each one of us. It is vital that we, as Catholics, do not think that, simply on the basis of our membership of our Church, we are somehow on an inside track and that, if the worst came to the worst, we could always get a confession or a final anointing to set things straight. That would be very presumptuous and very dangerous on our part. We could very well be in a position to hear those terrible words, “I do not know who you are”.

Each day and all day of our lives we have to walk through that narrow door, that door of faith and trust and love for Jesus and our brothers and sisters. Only then will we find ourselves joining the patriarchs, the prophets and all the saints in that life of unending happiness and union with our God for which we were made.

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