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All are welcome but don’t be late

In today’s passage, Luke presents a Jesus with threats and condemnations. His advice is even strange—strive to enter through the narrow gate!

In Luke’s communities, laxity, fatigue, presumption of being right with God, arrogance, the belief that good intentions are sufficient and that salvation can be obtained cheaply have infiltrated. Luke realises that the risk of being excluded from the kingdom looms over many Christians. 

Luke warns them by narrating this instance where Jesus is asked: “Is it true that a few people will be saved?” This was a question the Rabbis debated over in those days. Jesus, as an answer, narrates how one enters the kingdom of God, that is, how one becomes and maintains, today, to be his disciple.

The first condition is: “Do your best to enter by the narrow door, for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able.” Someone is not able to enter amazes. Clearly he does not lack good will, but he misses the way. The reference is to the Pharisee who leads an impeccable and exemplary life, fasts twice a week, not a thief or adulterer, yet he does not enter.

To pass through a narrow door, there is only one way: writhe, twitch, and, in short, make oneself small. Who is great and fat does not pass. One who is the one who knows of not meriting anything, one who, looking at himself, feels fragile and lost, and one who cannot but appeal to the mercy of God… only he or she can pass.

In the banquet, we have a first group of people who, remained outside, clamouring to enter shouting their reasons. They say: “We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.” But the host does not open and drives them away, calling them “workers of evil.”

Who are they? They knew Jesus well; they listened to him and ate the bread with him. Consequently, they are lukewarm Christians who are only physically part of the community, celebrate empty liturgies which are reduced to external rites that do not transform life. 

We come now to the second group made up of those inside. Seated at the table are the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and all the prophets, and finally, a great multitude coming from east and west, from north and south. 

It does not say that all these people knew Jesus and walked beside him. Perhaps many do not even know he existed. What is certain is that, if they are able to enter, it means that they have passed through the narrow gate; the others are left outside.

Luke closes the parable with the festive scene: the banquet and a significant saying: “Some who are among the last will be first, and some who are among the first will be last.”

The condemnation is not intended as a conclusive rejection, not an exclusion from eternal salvation. Such an interpretation is shallow and dangerous because it contradicts the gospel message. Rather, it is a pressing invitation to urgently reconsider one’s spiritual life because many cultivate illusions of being disciples, but in reality they are not at all. 

 

 

Father Fernando Armellini SCJ    
Claretian Publications
https://sundaycommentaries.wordpress.com