We gather together for Liturgy each Sunday and holy day. Why? Well, one reason—a very important reason—is to give thanks to God for His many blessings. Another reason, is to worship God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…and then, from our offerings and their work, we receive and share in a deep communion through the Body and Blood of Christ. And a further reason: we enter into this, and every liturgy, so that our virtuous bond with God and His family may grow more solid, firm, steadfast and effective.
Be sure, that if these do not match our real reasons for being here each Sunday, then we must heed the warning issued by Our Lord in today’s gospel. “Strive to enter through the narrow gate” is His challenge, but know that the path is narrow and many will not be strong enough. Yes, we might say that we are doing right now the bare minimum that is required of those who wish to enter into the Kingdom of God, but then again, the bare minimum will surely not be enough. Such a familiar plea, “But we ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets” will surely not be our ticket into God’s reign. So, what more is required? The “more” that is required is in the virtuous reasons for us being here today and every Lord’s Day.
Many of us can thank God well and worship God with reverence and awe, but it’s that third reason I mentioned earlier that catches us off-guard so many times each day and throughout our life. And that’s what we must strive for: to become more and more bound with Almighty God in the mundane, the everyday, the simple…as well as the difficult. Our goal, if we wish to reign with God, is to grow more and more like God: holy, merciful, just and right. Maybe some examples might help:
- Do I feel truly grateful for the gift of Christ’s Body & Blood? If I do, I will naturally tend to share such gifts and gratitude…maybe by bringing a canned good each week for our food pantry.
- Do I sense the calm of the Holy Spirit when I worship God? If I do, maybe I can help to calm another who is in fear…bringing in gifts for our soldiers…defending another who is being bullied…seeking to serve the homeless by donating clothes.
- Do I desire the intimate communion of God? If so, I need first to look at the intimacies I’m sharing in this human life…am I truly loving toward my spouse, siblings, friends and even enemies? Do I feel a responsibility for the communities in which I live, from which I am blessed with the many challenges they make me face?
Here are some examples in my own life of how the gate is very narrow indeed and I may not find myself strong enough to enter:
- I need to be very careful not to judge others when I am asked to judge their actions or decisions
- I need to be more positive and encouraging…less critical and suspect…when I listen to what might be called, “the ramblings of politicians”
- Rather than becoming angry with policies of governments and the resulting injustices around the world (I think right now of Syria and Egypt, just to mention a few); instead, I need to transform my reaction to one of sorrow, yet seasoned with a hope that things can be better…that deep sorrow may be a response that many of us could benefit from
- Instead of becoming fed up and rightly disgusted by the senseless and tragic horrors we hear of so often, even in towns like our own, by children like our own (for example, the brutal killings of a jogger in Oklahoma and a WWII Vet in Spokane, in 2 separate instances, just this week alone); can’t these then inspire me to greater encourage families to please spend more and more valuable time with each other and share your lives more deeply with one another, thus helping all of us—young and old—to better value every human life in its many beautiful forms
- I very much need to be more generous in my prayer for others, recalling well—and in my heart of hearts—the many and varied petitions that people ask of me each week
- I need to let go of my own desires and my own misgivings and simply, plainly trust God more. Often I try to explain away my reluctance, but there is no excuse for me not to jump into His holy life
You see, the gate is narrow for each of us who strive to enter it. There are a multitude of very particular things that each one of us must overcome in order for each one of us to cling to the Lord…and to Him alone. Only then, can the Kingdom of God begin to break upon us.
But be assured we do not do this alone, do we? No, we do it within the context of our relational lives: in communion with good friends and healthy neighbors, wise elders and idealistic young people. But here’s the greatest of helps: the Lord Jesus Christ himself invites us to follow after Him—wherever He may lead. He moves toward the Reign of God and the Kingdom of His Father…let us then, take nourishment in this Eucharist and solace in His promise: He will be with us always.
God love each of you.