Tìm Kiếm

26 tháng 8, 2013

Homily for the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

Homily for the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)
(Lk  13 : 22-30)

Fr. Joseph Nguyen, O.P (August 25, 2013)

Most of us have been familiar with the revolving door called the turnstile placed at the entrance of public buildings or bus station which allows persons to enter only one at a time. Certainly, this kind of door causes some inconvenience to by-passers, but  guarrantees the orderly flow of people to and from the building. Airplane passengers, however, are accustomed to endless queueing at airport security checkpoints, which are set up to purposely slow down the flowing of passengers for security screening, so that nothing dangerous might be brought on board. I think these two images give us some idea of what the door to heaven is like, as Christ tells us in the gospel of today: “Try your hardest to enter by the narrow door, because, I tell you, many will try to enter and will not succeed.”

How can we pass through a narrow door? There are two conditions : to make ourselves small enough, and to struggle to enter. First, to make ourselves small enough. One who is too big, will certainly not be able to pass through a narrow door. To make ourselves small enough spiritually to fit the door of heaven is to belittle ourselves, to be humble before God and men, both in intentions, in words and in actions. To make ourselves small enough to be able to enter the door of heaven is to be poor in spirit, to be empty of ambitions and foolish desires, to lead a simple life with facilities down to minimum necessary. “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”  (Lk 18, 25)

Second, we have to fight to enter heaven.  The narrower the door the more we have to fight to enter; the more people who want to enter the harder we have to hustle in order to get in. How narrow is the door to heaven? I would say it is very narrow, even narrower than the turnstile and harder to pass through than security checkpoints at airport, because while uninvited guests can still enter the building through the turnstile and some terrorists can manage to go through security checkpoints to board the plane, no men can ever enter the door of heaven unless they are perfectly qualified, totally worthy of it and thoroughly known and accepted by God. No man can ever enter heaven by chance or by trick  Elsewhere in the gospel Christ even puts it stronger : “ From now on people have to use force to enter the kingdom of God.”

Indeed, saints and especially martyrs have to fight their way, even at the cost of their lives, in order to enter the gate of heaven. St Rose of Lima whose feast we celebrated last August 23 did something that perhaps no woman of today would dare to imitate : she cut off her beautiful hair, put her hands into live lime to make them wither and applied a mixture of salt and pepper to her face in order to make it ugly so that no man would flirt after her anymore!

Nothing which is of high value is cheap. We have to pay dearly for the price of heaven, just as the martyrs have to pay with the price of their life, because as psalm 117 reads : “ This is the Lord’s gate, through which only the victorious enter.”  Yes, only the victorious, the conquerors of sin, evil and passion deserve the right to enter the narrow door of heaven.

Fr. Joseph Nguyen, O.P