Sunday, August 21, 2016

Doorway to Heaven

“Strive to enter through the narrow door…” (Luke 14:24)

In today’s gospel, someone asks Jesus a very straightforward question: “Lord will only a few people be saved?”  The Lord does not answer the question directly but says to enter through the narrow door.  Many will try to get into the party, but only those who take the road less travelled and use the narrow door will get in.  Such is the life of the Christian.  But what can prevents us from entering through the small door that leads to eternal life?  This morning, Pope Francis reminded us that Jesus is the door and that pride prevents us from passing through the door: “For this, it is narrow: to contain our pride, which bloats us.  The door of God's mercy is narrow but always wide open, wide open for everyone!”  Pride and sin may prevent us from getting through, but our Holy Father rightly points out that while the door to eternity may be narrow, it is definitely always open.  We just got to shed some of the excess spiritual weight that hold us back from being, as Matthew Kelly would say, the best version of ourselves.

So basically we got to get in spiritual shape to fit through that narrow door.  Today the Olympics come to a close and we’ve been witnessed to some remarkable triumphs and stories.  These athletes sacrifice so much and train for hours every day just to be able to compete. In the case of those who trained for the 100 meter dash, they train four years for a 10 second sprint, and as has been the case for the last three Olympics, they train for the honor of sprinting next to the great Usain Bolt who did more to promulgate the devotion to Miraculous Medal than any priest or bishop over the last two weeks.  So these athletes train to attain their prize, which is a gold medal.  As Christians, we spiritual train to attain the ultimate prize, which is heaven.  Just like we can’t wake up one morning and think we can compete with Michael Phelps, we can’t just expect to walk through the narrow door if we aren’t in spiritual shape.  Yet God’s mercy is so great that we can make the decision right now if we want to to shed the excess spiritual weight that is holding us back from being great Christians.  I was joking with some ladies this morning that the best place to lose weight is basically the confessional.  We walk in burdened by sin, bloated as the Pope said, and we walk out as slim as a supermodel: free to live the lives that Christ wants us to live.  Unburdened by our past and focused totally on the present.   The importance of confession has been at the forefront of this Year of Mercy, and once done with confession, we are surrounded by a myriad of Holy Doors to symbolize our leaving our old ways behind to walk with Christ though one of those doors and into a new life full of endless possibilities.  This was the highlight of my recent pilgrimage through Europe and all the different Holy Doors that I walked through especially the Holy Door in St. Peter’s Basilica.

So in order to enter through the narrow door, the doorway to eternity, I leave you with one simple question: what is holding you back from being the Christian that Christ wants you to be?