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The narrow door

Some years ago, I served as a chaplain to a group of pilgrims to the Holy Land. Among the destinations we visited was the tomb of King David in Jerusalem.

The Jewish lady guide graciously showed us around David’s shrine and explained the great significance of the hallowed place.

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I asked politely: “Ma’am, what about Jesus Christ? How do you regard him?” The lady looked at me, her face stiffening, and said angrily, “Jesus Christ was an impostor. He divided our country; he doesn’t mean anything to us.”

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I didn’t know how hyper sensitive the issue was. Embarrassed, I slowly backed out of the group – afraid there might be one more to be buried in the shrine!

Although there are now Jews who acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah, like the “Jews for Jesus” Movement, the majority still do not accept Jesus and are waiting for the coming of the Messiah.

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Thus in this 21st Sunday’s gospel, the Lord said: “There are those last now who will be first, and first now who will be last” (Lk 13,30).

What Christ meant is that there will be a reversal of places in God’s kingdom. He was referring to the Israelites, the chosen people, who were privileged to “eat and drink in his company” and who believed that blood descent from Abraham or being a Jew was a sure-fire guarantee of salvation.

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Christ declares, however, that this is not the case. He adds a stern warning that one must work and work hard to gain one’s salvation. “You must enter through the narrow door” (Lk 13,24).

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When Jesus talks about the “narrow door,” he means, as the word connotes, that entering involves difficulty, inconvenience, struggle.

For instance, to be an authentic Christian, entering through the narrow door could mean FIDELITY to the will of God in situations that are sometimes difficult like forgiving an enemy or being faithful to one’s spouse when he or she is tempted to a more attractive person.

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Entering the narrow door can also mean being honest in business transactions even if there are temptations to amass ill-gotten wealth or doing things you may not enjoy doing like going to Sunday Mass or visiting a sick relative when watching a favorite TV program or playing basketball is more appealing.

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When we are steadfastly striving to enter through the narrow door, we may be surprised to discover one day that our cross became our crown, our struggle became our glory, and our last place became our first place.

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LAFF ONE ANOTHER. A faithful married couple in their 60s are visited by an angel who grants them both a wish. “I want to travel around the world with my darling husband,” says the wife. Two tickets for a luxury cruise appear in her hand.

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Husband says, “Sorry love, but my wish is to have a wife 30 years younger than me.” So the angel waves her wand and the husband becomes 90 years-old! (Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD)

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