During these last few weeks we’ve been accompanying Jesus on this journey. During this time he called some to follow him as his disciples. And, throughout, he teaches them by both word and example what it means to be his disciple. Fundamentally it is simply to follow him, to walk on his footsteps. Perhaps that is why today he tells us that the door is “narrow”. We know that both his lifestyle and his teaching were not always very popular! Sometimes he went against the grain of what the religious leaders of his time were teaching. Often, the way they lived was much worse! Moreover, asking people to forgive unconditionally, to love one’s enemy, to give without expecting anything back in return, did not make him very popular! But, irrespective of anything, he goes on unperturbed. His destination is very clear in his mind.
Perhaps the first question I am invited to ask myself today is: do I know where I am heading? What do I want as the outcome of my life? As we know, being part of God’s kingdom is not a matter of what’s going to happen to me after death. I am invited to be part of this kingdom here and now, in my everyday life.
Being a Christian, or a follower of Jesus, is a way of life. It is not merely a matter of going to church and saying my prayers. Mind you, these are important as tools. I know that without prayer, without God’s help, I cannot make it. And I also know that there is much value in worshipping together with my fellow-Christians. Together, in our liturgies and moments of communal prayer, we pray for each other, strengthen each other, and help each other in our daily struggles. After all, together we are the “body of Christ”, and it does not make sense to say that I am a Christian without being a living member of this body. On the other hand there are people who think that just by physically going to church, by fulfilling their liturgical duties, they are automatically entitled to be part of His kingdom. Probably it was to such people that Jesus was referring when he said that they tell him “we ate and drank with you” and that they heard his teaching: a not-so-subtle reference to our liturgies of sharing Eucharist and listening to the Word. What we celebrate in Church I am called to translate in my everyday life. The Word I listen to has to be put into practice. The Body and Blood that is freely given and which I receive is to be given, in turn, by me in my own life. It is no wonder that, to these people, Jesus says that he does not even recognize them!
The Kingdom of Jesus knows no boundaries. Isaiah, in the first reading of today, makes reference to “all nations and tongues”. We are all invited. We are all expected to be included. Through our baptism, we are all called to walk on the footsteps of the One who called us, sharing with Him the mission of bringing God’s message of love wherever we may be.
Let us continue to journey together. With our presence, and with our prayer, let us continue to support, strengthen, and build each other to continue on this journey, passing through the narrow door, with our eyes firmly set on our destination.