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Homily (Reflection) for the Twenty-First Sunday of the Year, (C) (21st August, 2016) on the Gospel

Is 66:18-21;
Ps 116. (R. Mk 16:15);
Heb 12:5-7.11-13;
Lk 13:22-30.

Topic: Ticket to heaven.
Jesus warns in today’s gospel, “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able.” These will knock and plead but the owner of the house will reply them, “I do not know where you come from.” Interestingly, they will begin to say, “We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.” Yet he will say to them, “I do not know where you come from; go away from me, all you evildoers!”
In his letter to the Philippians, Saint Paul writes, “...our citizenship is in heaven” (Phil 3:20). Remember what God has prepared for those who love Him in heaven, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived” (1Cor 2:9). Saint Peter also describes it as “an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading” (1Pt 1:4). More touching is that whether one succeeds to enter or not, it is forever, cf. Dan 7:18, 27. 12:2; Matt 25:46.
The pains of not being able to enter through the narrow door is unimaginable. Hence Jesus goes on to warn,
There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrown out. Then people will come from east and west, from north and south, and will eat in the kingdom of God.
Some might think that based on their positions and/or connections that they will succeed through the narrow door. Jesus defines His friends as those who do His will, cf. Jn 15:14. He also prayed for them to the Father saying, “Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me...” (Jn 17:24; cf. Jn 14:3).
A priest and a taxi driver both died and went to heaven. Saint Peter was at the Pearly Gates waiting for them. “Come with me,” said Peter to the taxi driver.
The taxi driver did as he was told and followed Peter to a mansion. It had anything you could imagine from a bowling alley to an Olympic-sized pool. “Wow, thank you,” said the taxi driver.
Next, Saint Peter led the priest to a rugged old shack with a bunk bed and a little, old television set. “Wait, I think you are a little mixed up,” said the priest. “Shouldn’t I be the one who gets the mansion? After all I was a priest, went to church every day, and preached God’s word.”
“Yes, that’s true,” replied Peter. “But during your sermons people slept. When the taxi driver drove, everyone prayed.”[1]
Saint Paul warns, “Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers – none of these will inherit the kingdom of God” (1Cor 6:9-10). He also warns,
Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal 5:19-21).
Everyone is strongly urged to enter the kingdom of God, cf. Lk 16:16. Nothing is good enough to deprive one the kingdom of God, cf. Mk 9:43-48. According to the Apostles, “It is through many persecutions that we must enter the kingdom of God,” cf. Acts 14:22. We have hope laid up for us in heaven, cf. Col 1:5.
Bible Reading: Mk 9:42-48; Gal 5:16-26; 1Pt 1:3–2:17. 4:12-19.
Thought for today: Something greater is in heaven.
Let us pray: Lord, give us the strength to enter through the narrow door – Amen.

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[1] Thomas, T. (2010). Spice up your homilies. Mumbai: St Pauls, p. 167.

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