TWENTY-FIRST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
(Green) Cycle C/Year II (August 21, 2016)
Is 66:18-21/Heb 12:5-7, 11-13/Lk 13:22-30
As Jesus was going to Jerusalem, He passed through towns and villages teaching about the eternal salvation. Someone asked Him if only few people would be saved to which He replied that we must strive to enter through the narrow gate in order to be saved. This narrow gate referred to by Jesus is the way taught by Jesus in order for us to enter the kingdom of God. Such way is the teaching of Jesus summarized into two commandments: love for God and love for neighbor.
Jesus warns us in the gospel that we may knock the locked door of heaven crying out: Lord, open the door for us; we ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets. But then He will tell us: “I do not know where [you] are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers! (Lk 13:27b)” A lot of us may say to the Lord: Lord, I always attend the Holy Mass especially during Sundays; Lord, I give donations to the Church; Lord, I always recite my prayers; Lord, I have observed the Ten Commandments; Lord, I believe in your teaching and that of the Catholic Church, etc. Indeed, we presume that we can be saved simply because we are members of the Church founded by Jesus Christ and that a lot of those required by the Church we usually do. But then, this is not enough for us to acquire eternal salvation.
To enter the Kingdom of God, the first thing that we have to do is conversion, that is, repentance of our sinfulness and renewal of life. We need to repent because we are always sinners in front of God; we need to beg for His mercy, compassion and forgiveness. Then we have to reject evil deeds and perform only good deeds, those that glorify God. The most important thing that we have to fulfill is the commandment of Jesus, the commandment of love for God and neighbor.
To love God does not simply mean to worship God by attending the Holy Eucharist, by praying, by reading the Bible, etc; it also means to develop virtues both human and Christian, and to perform good deeds. Moreover, the love of God can never be separated from the love of neighbor because God incarnated in Jesus Christ, that is, God became Man. Therefore, to love God also means to love our neighbor. Love for neighbor in the teaching of Jesus consists of forgiving and loving our enemies, praying for those who persecute us, and helping the needy. These were actually the deeds of Jesus when He was still living here on earth. As Christians, we have to follow Jesus by living His very life and observing His teachings and examples.
We are all evildoers and sinners. But God is Good and Love. He is merciful and compassionate. We simply need to humble ourselves in front of Him and beg His forgiveness and He is willing to grant us new life. The new life of grace must be lived with commitment to glorify God in our words and actions. Let us ask the help and intercession of the Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary, that we may be like her, always disposed to fulfill the will of God even at the cost of our plans, will and life.