First Reading: From the Book of Isaiah 66:18-21
18 I am coming to gather every nation and every language. They will come to witness my glory.
19 I shall give them a sign and send some of their survivors to the nations: to Tarshish, Put, Lud, Meshech, Tubal and Javan, to the distant coasts and islands that have never heard of me or seen my glory. They will proclaim my glory to the nations,
20 and from all the nations they will bring all your brothers as an offering to Yahweh, on horses, in chariots, in litters, on mules and on camels, to my holy mountain, Jerusalem, Yahweh says, like Israelitesbringing offerings in clean vessels to Yahweh’s house.
21 And some of them I shall make into priests and Levites, Yahweh says.
Responsorial Psalm: From Psalms 117:1, 2
1 Alleluia! Praise Yahweh, all nations, extol him, all peoples,
2 for his faithful love is strong and his constancy never-ending.
Gospel Reading: From the Gospel Account of Saint Luke 13:22-30
22 Through towns and villages he went teaching, making his way to Jerusalem.
23 Someone said to him, ‘Sir, will there be only a few saved?’ He said to them,
24 ‘Try your hardest to enter by the narrow door, because, I tell you, many will try to enter and will not succeed.
25 ‘Once the master of the house has got up and locked the door, you may find yourself standing outside knocking on the door, saying, “Lord, open to us,” but he will answer, “I do not know where you come from.”
26 Then you will start saying, “We once ate and drank in your company; you taught in our streets,”
27 but he will reply, “I do not know where you come from; away from me, all evil doers!”
28 ‘Then there will be weeping and grinding of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrown out.
29 And people from east and west, from north and south, will come and sit down at the feast in the kingdom of God.
30 ‘Look, there are those now last who will be first, and those now first who will be last.’
Second Reading: From the Letter of Saint Paul to the Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13
5 Have you forgotten that encouraging text in which you are addressed as sons? My son, do not scorn correction from the Lord, do not resent his training,
6 for the Lord trains those he loves, and chastises every son he accepts.
7 Perseverance is part of your training; God is treating you as his sons. Has there ever been any son whose father did not train him?
11 Of course, any discipline is at the time a matter for grief, not joy; but later, in those who have undergone it, it bears fruit in peace and uprightness.
12 So steady all weary hands and trembling knees
13 and make your crooked paths straight; then the injured limb will not be maimed, it will get better instead.
Theme: Do not risk being shut out
What does the image of a door say to us about the kingdom of God? Jesus’ story about the door being shut to those who come too late suggests they had offended their host and deserved to be excluded. It was customary for teachers in Jesus’ time to close the door on tardy students and not allow them back for a whole week in order to teach them a lesson in discipline and faithfulness.
Who will be invited to enter God’s kingdom?
Jesus told this story in response to the question of who will make it to heaven – to God’s kingdom of everlasting peace and eternal life. Many rabbis held that all Israel would be saved and gain entry into God’s kingdom, except for a few blatant sinners who excluded themselves! After all, they were specially chosen by God when he established a covenant relationship with them.
Jesus surprised his listeners by saying that one’s membership as a people who have entered into a covenant relationship with God does not automatically mean entry into the everlasting kingdom of God. Second, Jesus asserts that many from the Gentile (non-Jewish) nations would enter God’s kingdom. God’s invitation is open to Jew and Gentile alike.
Jesus is the door to the kingdom of heaven
But Jesus warns that we can be excluded if we do not strive to enter by the narrow door. What did Jesus mean by this expression? The door which Jesus had in mind was himself. I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved (John 10:9). God sent his only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to open the way for us to have full access to the throne of God’s grace (favor and blessing) and mercy (pardon for our sins). Through Jesus’ victory on the cross he has freed us from slavery to sin and hurtful desires and addictions, and he has made us sons and daughters of God and citizens of his heavenly kingdom. We are free now to choose which kingdom we will serve – the kingdom of truth and light ruled by God’s wisdom or the kingdom of falsehood and darkness ruled by Satan and the world system or society of people who are opposed to God and his laws.
Following the Lord requires effort and commitment on our part
If we want to enter God’s kingdom and receive our full inheritance which is stored up for us in heaven, then we must follow the Lord Jesus in his way of the cross through a willing renunciation of our own will for his will – our own life for his life – our own way for his way.
Why did Jesus say we must strive to enter his kingdom of righteousness and peace? The word strive can also be translated as agony. To enter the kingdom of God we must struggle against every force or power of opposition – even the temptation to remain indifferent, apathetic, or compromising in our faith and personal trust in Jesus, our hope in holding firm to the promises of Jesus, and our uncompromising love for God above all else. Paul the Apostle reminds us that our hope in God does not disappoint us because “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5).
The Lord is with us to strengthen us in our trials and struggles
The Lord reminds us that when we face difficulties, trials, temptations, and even failures, we do not struggle alone. He knows our weaknesses even better than we know them, and he is always ready to help us in our struggle to overcome sin and wrong-doing. God’s grace is sufficient! As we strive side by side for the faith of the Gospel (Philippians 1:27) Jesus assures us of complete victory! Do you trust in God’s grace and help, especially in times of testing and temptation?
“Lord Jesus, may I never doubt your guiding presence and your tender love and mercy towards me. Through the gift of your Spirit fill me with persevering faith and courage to trust you always in all things and in every circumstance I find myself in. May your love set my heart aflame with love for You who are my All.”