Gaining Heaven will not be a breeze especially for those who are lazy, uncommitted, lukewarm, and indifferent. In today’s Sunday Gospel (Lk. 13: 22-30), the Lord reminds us,
“Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.”
This part of the Scriptures emphasizes the need to be actively involved in God’s plan of salvation for our own good. Not lukewarm, not passive, but spirited involvement.
The Gospel continues,
After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, “Lord, open the door for us.” He will say to you in reply, “I do not know where you are from.” And you will say, “We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.” Then he will say to you, “I do not know where you are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!”
It is sad to be complacent or confident of “automatic” salvation especially when you are a member of organized religion or community. Many may expect that being in church, being in an organized religion will be enough to bring one automatically to Heaven, citing other Scripture readings as basis. But what is missing in this belief is that it’s never automatic. There is a response needed to God’s calling. Even the Jews at that time may have been hurt by what Jesus has said. Yet, this is the reality of the Gospel that the Lord has brought into the world. To gain access to eternal life demands that we be mindful of the need to give up personal gains for the good of others, like living our lives with helping others and glorifying God at all times. We have to be the messenger and the hands of God for others. Our ability to discern His will requires attuning ourselves with the spirit of God. When we are in harmony with Him, we become selfless and in fear of God, not the fear we ordinarily know, but the fear which is a “sovereign respect for God, and makes us dread nothing so much as to offend Him by sin.” It is about reverence and filial submission to our Heavenly Father. (cf. Novena to the Holy Spirit). This fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 9: 10).
We have to be careful not to offend God amidst the idea that He can’t be affected, but He ought to be loved and adored above all. We should be aware of things that separate us away from God. Grace is also about being given the wisdom to discern God’s will and the strength to persevere. It requires faith that is unwavering and committed. To stay the course, from time to time God will correct us, if necessary. In the Second Reading, the Epistle to the Hebrews (Heb. 12: 5-7, 11-13) says,
“My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord or lose heart when reproved by him; for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines; he scourges every son he acknowledges.”
When we pray for patience, He will subject us to trials that will enable us to exercise our faith and the patience to wait. When we are in a state of grace, we will see better and above our current situations, joyful even amidst suffering and challenges. It is because we know our faith is being strengthened and fortified and that we trust the Lord that “all things work for good for those who love God,who are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8: 28).
The Lord reveals the yield of faithfulness,
“At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.”
The humility to acknowledge Him will bear good fruit. This will make us understand the need to be joyful when God calls our attention. Isn’t it then a great gift by the Author of Life?
Today, let us pray for the gift of holy fear of the Lord. That we may be able to see beyond the present, and the peace in the knowledge that we are on the right path to meet Him someday. Even if the road is difficult. Even if the door is narrow.
“I am the way, the truth and the life, says the Lord; no one comes to the Father, except through me.” (Jn. 14: 6)