21ST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – C
Each one of us has goals to achieve, dreams to reach, ambitions to attain, destiny to fulfill. They shape our consciousness and define our personalities. The object of our longing becomes the reason of our existence which gives us the drive towards a purpose-driven life.
Because we are a composite of body and soul, we have material and spiritual longings. As finite beings we are mortals whose physical existence ends in death and yet at the same time we are also infinite beings because of the immortality of our souls. In Homer’s Iliad, Achilles motivated the Spartans to fight against the Trojans: “Behind the Trojan walls is immortality.” Like those unknown Spartan soldiers many of us go through the many walls of life in order to achieve immortality in different forms. Oftentimes, the price we have to pay is never cheap: sacrifice, discipline, a code of behavior, lifetime training and sometimes even death.
Salvation is our ultimate goal! It is the deliverance brought about by Jesus Christ from our sinful existence towards fullness of life. The Jews always thought that being the Chosen People of God they would be the only ones to be saved hence the question: “Lord, is it true that only a few people will be saved?” The answer of Jesus was not about number but the manner of being saved: “Do your best to enter through the narrow door…” Through Baptism we all became members of the Church which is the new People of God. Like the Jews or members of other religions who believe that membership in their system of belief or cult are assured of redemption, we are also tempted to think that being a Catholic is a sure ticket to heaven. True enough, we have the Sacraments which are aids to live as good Christians. But if we keep the grace of the Sacraments only to ourselves and we are not able to channel them for the good of others, they remain empty rituals and without meaning. We are only sacramentalized but never evangelized!
Heaven is not only meant for Catholics; Jesus did not die only for Christians; paradise is not just for martyrs and virgins. Salvation is universal: “I am about to come and gather people of every nation and language…” (First Reading: Is. 66:18) Jesus stretched out His arms on the cross to offer the infinitude of God’s love to all His creatures and to embrace the prostitutes, criminals, adulterers, the unloved sinners and even atheists. Among the many surprises in heaven is to see people we least expect to be there, including ourselves.
If our final goal is to be with the ones we love most for the rest of our lives, then this desire is also true to the One who has loved us first. God has no other longing than for us to be Him in eternity for the rest of our lives. But the only way to enter into this timeless existence is through the narrow door! The narrow door which is the way of the cross is not at all appealing because it entails sacrifice and pain. Many choose the easy way because of the mundane pleasures that continue to allure us.
Heaven is awaiting for those who enter the narrow door!