Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 21, 2022

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Today’s Gospel takes place while Jesus is “making his way to Jerusalem.”  What I love about Sacred Scripture, always co-authored by the Holy Spirit, is that every word and phrase can be instructional for our life.  This simple introductory remark sets the stage for the theme of today’s readings. Today’s readings serve to guide us as we make our way to the heavenly Jerusalem.  Our time on this earth is God’s gift of love.  We’re given the opportunity to choose our eternal destination.  Today’s readings teach us what path to take and what door to enter.   

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Gospel Explained

We live in a society that likes to keep score.  We want to know who the winners will be.  One of Jesus’ followers has this mindset when they ask, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?”  As usual, Jesus doesn’t answer this question.  It’s the wrong question.  Instead of answering how many will be saved Jesus provides the answer to a more important question.  He tells the people how to enter eternal salvation.  Jesus tells them, and us, to “Strive to enter through the narrow gate,…” 


These mostly Jewish followers believe their salvation comes to them through their birthright as a Jew.  But Jesus is the door through which they must enter to be saved.  Jesus is not just another prophet.  In John’s Gospel Jesus said, “I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved…”  (Jn 10:9). 


Jesus warns his followers that many will not be strong enough.  We should reflect on these words and ask ourselves, “What do I need to do to be strong enough?”   Jesus is the gate which we must open and enter.  It is his life that shows us the way.  The more we work to imitate Jesus with our life, the more we enter the gate to eternal salvation.


Lastly, Jesus reminds us and his followers that many from all parts of the world will recline at table with the Lord in the heavenly kingdom of God.  There is not one cookie-cutter formula or one path to follow.  No one person or group is given exclusive entry.  But there is just one gate to enter.  That gate is Jesus.

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Today’s Theme

God Calls All People to Salvation Through Jesus.

Through the prophet Isaiah in our first reading, God proclaims that He will gather all nations to come to Jerusalem, the holy mountain, to give Him glory and praise forever.  In our Gospel we learn that Jesus is the narrow gate.  Not everyone who knows Jesus will choose to enter into Him, striving to imitate His life and follow His instructions.  Why is this?  Isn’t it good enough to know who Jesus is and believe that He is the Son of God?  No.  It takes more than just lip service.  If we profess to believe in Jesus with our minds and hearts, but don’t live the life to which He calls us, how can we say we truly believe?  How we live, what we do with our life shows where we place our true faith.  Jesus showed us by His life what the path to salvation looks like.  Yes, we must believe in Jesus as the Son of God.  We must also live according to what Jesus teaches us through Scripture and the Church.

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Theme in our Life Today

Yes, there will be winners and losers.  Our society wants us to strive to be winners in this world.  Society wants us to believe the winners are the ones who gain the most money, power, possessions and honor.  Society wants us to believe that “the one who dies with the most “stuff” wins. 


However, God calls us to win the eternal prize, an eternal life of joy in His heavenly kingdom.  But to get there we must choose the narrow gate.  The narrow gate is to conform our lives to Jesus.  To choose the narrow gate is to surrender our life of worldly desires for a life of serving others.  Jesus’ mission on earth was to help us enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  Our life in Jesus is also a mission to help others enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  People knew Jesus by how He loved others.  In our life, we are called to help people know the love of Jesus through we live. 


Unfortunately, living like Jesus lived doesn’t come naturally.  We are reminded in the Letter to the Hebrews that the various trials we face in life must be endured as “discipline” meant to strengthen us in our Christian way of life.  Our afflictions and suffering that cause us to call on the Holy Spirit for help and guidance help us better walk the narrow path of life in Jesus.  We must always keep in mind the words of St. Paul, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.” (Rom 8:18)  Paul understood and looked forward to our eternal destiny. 


Our life here on earth is a gift of love from God.  Through Jesus’ saving act on the cross, we are given the opportunity to enter the kingdom of heaven through the narrow gate, which is the life of Jesus.  God’s love for us is so great, he gave us the free will in which to choose our eternal destiny.  We choose our eternal destiny by how we live on this earth.  We do not know when the Master will come and lock the door.  Therefore, the choices we make today, and the next day, and the day after that... matter.  Let us strive each day to enter the narrow gate of Jesus’ love.

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To Prepare for this Sunday’s Liturgy, consider the following: 

1.    What responsibility do we have today, individually or as a community, to tell others about the glory of salvation through Jesus?

2.    What experience have you had with being “disciplined” in the ways of the Lord?

3.    Why was it not sufficient to simply eat and drink with Jesus, and allow him to teach? What more does he want?