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Salvation and rejection

Gospel Reading: Lk 13:22-30
Jesus passed through towns and villages, teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” He answered them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. 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!’ And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God and you yourselves cast out. And people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the Kingdom of God. For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

There is a specific context in mind in the parable – the danger that people in Israel will miss the blessing they have been awaiting for centuries. In a directly applicable sense, Jesus addresses the Jews, the descendants of the patriarchs. So this text most directly continues to speak to the Jews, asking them to consider whether they are open to entering through the “narrow gate” Jesus provides. The text suggests other applications, too. One can be so close to the promise of God and yet miss it. This can manifest itself in a variety of ways. People in the Church can assume that because they have been born into an attending family, they are in and will automatically receive God’s blessing.

Like Jews who thought it was mostly a matter of heredity and cultural heritage, some call themselves Christians, not because of any faith commitment, but because of a family connection, a denominational affiliation, or a cultural contact with Christianity, a contact that may express itself by attendance at church or the like. More subtle still is to assume that because a culture is “Christian,” all born into that culture have automatic relationship to God.

Entry through the “narrow gate” means responding personally to Jesus and being obedient to his commands.

“But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name” ( Jn 1:12).

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SOURCE: “366 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: publishing@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.