“STRIVE TO ENTER BY THE NARROW GATE” (Luke 13:24)
⏰Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)
📖Isa 66:18-21; Ps 117:1, 2 (R. Mark 16:15); Heb 12:5-7, 11-13; Luke 13:22-30
🎤”STRIVE TO ENTER BY THE NARROW GATE” (Luke 13:24)
My dear, the evangelist Luke chooses to remind us today that Jesus is still on his way to Jerusalem. What awaits him in Jerusalem is the Cross. It is through the Cross that he would depart this world, and he knew about it.
When he began this journey, he invited his disciples to carry their crosses and follow him (cf. Luke 9:23). If the one who asked him the question about the number of those to be saved (cf. Luke 13:23) had paid attention to him then, he would have heard him add, “… whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it” (Luke 9:24).
In case he did not hear it then or that he might have forgotten, Jesus decided to bring back his focus with the saying, “Strive to enter by the narrow gate” (Luke 13:24). In other words, Jesus is saying, “Strive to enter by me.” Remember that he is the gate to the sheepfold (cf. John John 10:7), and whoever enter enters through him would be saved, and go in and out freely and find pasture (John 10:9).
Note that the word used there is “whoever”. That means that everyone is invited to enter through the gate which is Christ.
The prophet Isaiah, in the First Reading, gave a vision where the gentile nations troop to Jerusalem to share in the glory of God. Notice how that reading ended, “And some of them also I will take for priests and Levites, says the Lord” (Isa 66:21). This means that the allocation of positions in the kingdom of God would not be dependent on your tribe nor the time of arrival at the gate. It would only depend on remaining focused to walk through the gate.
Unfortunately, many of us get to the gate but because of our impatience, we decide to look for alternative wider gates to get immediate but temporal solution instead of remaining at the narrow gate to wait for their turn to cross over to their victory.
There are many easy and wide open gates today. We have:
👉🏽The bribery gate
👉🏽The adultery/fornication gate
👉🏽The secret cult gate
👉🏽The kidnap gate
👉🏽The advanced fee fraud (419) gate
👉🏽The fake prophecy gate, etc.
All these gates promise us escape routes away from the Cross. That is the danger inherent in those adulterated gates. It is through the Cross that Jesus was glorified. Anyone who wants to enter into his kingdom to share his glory must be patient to bear the Cross.
The Cross is anything that makes life difficult for you, for which the enemy, the devil, is suggesting an easy and wide gate for you. The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews encourages us, in the Second Reading, to endure the pains from these crosses while patiently waiting for the Lord.
Even when the enemy tries to suggest to you that God has abandoned you and your cross just because it has been long with you, remember that Jesus has been on his way to Jerusalem for a long while now, with the load of the Cross in his heart. His glory lies in Jerusalem, and no distraction would stop him from reaching the end.
Without perseverance, you can stop on the way while those who were behind you come and overtake you. Can you see what Jesus refers to as the first being the last and the last first (Luke 13:30)?
Yet, it is not with our strength alone that we can persevere; it is by focusing on Christ who suffered for us on the Cross, just as the sheep follow the shepherd to enter the sheepfold for protection and out for pasture.
As you follow Jesus the Narrow Gate daily and faithfully, may he grant you protection against worldly evils and provide you with the needed bodily and spiritual nourishment, and in the end, eternal life. Amen.
Have a grace-filled and satisfying Sunday. Peace be with you.