Luke reminds us once again that we are on the “way to Jerusalem” with Jesus. This means that the guiding principle in our lives ought to be the loving concern that took Jesus himself to the climax of his career as he gave his life for us in Jerusalem. Though it would be nice if we could all visit the modern city of Jerusalem, this is not what Luke had in mind. He is thinking instead about the true purpose of this human life that God has given us.
As we make this spiritual journey, we must inevitably ask the question posed in today’s gospel: “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” Or, more directly, “Lord, am I among those who will make this journey successfully?” And Jesus answers our question with words that dispel any smugness that we may have been entertaining: “Strive to enter through the narrow door.” To love as he did will not be easy.
Finally, Jesus warns us about the terrible disappointment in store for those who have not taken his teaching seriously. They will discover, only when it is too late, that they have not made room in their lives for the One who alone can bring them to that ultimate joyful banquet that our Creator has prepared for us in his kingdom.
Most of us live in a world that is full of wonderful opportunities. A telling metaphor is the superabundance of our grocery stores. When we enter the supermarket, we scarcely know where to turn in view of all the delightful attractions that surround us. It has been noted that those who come here from impoverished countries are almost overwhelmed by amazement at the seemingly endless riches of these grocery stores.
We should all be grateful for such convenience in our lives, but we also know that such displays of worldly goods do not represent the real meaning of happiness. Some years ago, it was common to find contests offered on the radio with the winner awarded “20 minutes of free shopping in the supermarket.” One can easily imagine the winner’s frenetic search for the most desirable items. But I like to imagine a different scenario where the winning contestant would spend those precious minutes helping others with their shopping needs. And when questioned about this strange behavior, he would reply simply, “Oh, didn’t you know that my Father owns the supermarket and that, if we are kind and thoughtful during our 20 minutes of life, the whole store will be ours forever?”
What a pity it will be if we finally see what life is all about only when it is too late! But there is still time to resist the powerful distractions that dazzle us and tell us how much more we need when only one thing is really necessary, that is, to love our gracious and generous God and to be kind and forgiving toward his precious people.
Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B.