26 August 2007

JOIN NOW!

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lk 13:22-30

Do you belong to any club? Membership in a club is always exclusive. It is very difficult to gain membership in a club. A club is not for everybody.

I read a story about a man who had his application approved by a certain club. But he was very disappointed when his application was approved. He sent the officers of the club a telegram that said, “Please accept my resignation. I don’t want to belong to a club that accepts me as member.” That man’s disappointment was absurd, but he was coming from the common view that gaining membership in a club should be very difficult. The more difficult to be a member of a certain club, the more that club is exclusive. The more exclusive a club is, the more that club is sought after. But every club has strict rules regarding who should be in and who should be out. We may call this set of rules as the “door policy” of every club.

St. Luke narrates to us in the gospel today that God’s kingdom has a door policy too. Clearly, he says that membership in God’s kingdom is not automatic. Although God want all men and women to be saved, the door policy of His kingdom is very strict and must be satisfied by those who wish to enter it.

While Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem, where He will fulfill the most difficult and strictest consequence of His fidelity to God and love of humankind, someone asked Him how many will be saved in the end. Instead of engaging in arithmetic, Jesus gives a practical advice about soteriology or the theology of salvation: “Try to enter through the narrow door because, I tell you solemnly, many will try to enter through it but will fail.” The door of God’s kingdom is not wide that anyone may enter through it easily and in a jiffy. No, the kingdom of God has a door that is narrow and each of those who wish to enter it must struggle through.

But the door of God’s kingdom is not only narrow. We often forget what St. Luke reminds us today: the kingdom of God has a door that will not remain open forever. There is an appointed time when that door will not only be closed but will also be locked for good. And when that hour comes, those who are left outside will never be allowed to go in anymore at any cost. The narrow door will become a locked door. The little time will become no more time. We cannot afford to dilly-dally nor come late. When left outside, we will never be admitted anymore even if our knuckles bleed from knocking on heaven’s door. Instead, the Lord will even say to us, “I do not know you. Depart from Me!” Reminding Him of our status and achievements will never do.

What is even more painful for those who will be out is to see who are in. Those who think that they are members of God’s Club will be shocked to realize that they are actually not counted in while those whom they consider out of it are truly the ones who belong to it. This is a clear warning for those who are self-assured of their status in relation to God’s kingdom. At the appointed time, all will be revealed and the words of the Prophet Isaiah in the first reading today will be fulfilled. The door policy of God’s kingdom never fails to surprise us: we are not one hundred percent sure of who is “in” and who is “out”. In God’s kingdom, we do not know who is coming for dinner.

Nonetheless, there is a clear sign that we can hold on to as regards who will most probably gain access unto God’s kingdom and live with Him forever. In Mt 25:34-40, Jesus clearly defines the character of those who belong to God’s kingdom: those who feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome strangers, clothe the naked, care for the sick, and visit the imprisoned. In a word, compassionate love – aside from God’s mercy – alone will help anyone satisfy the door policy of God’s kingdom. Love likewise summarizes the list of those whom Jesus considers blessed in Mt 5:3-12. Thus, St. John of the Cross wrote, “At the twilight of life, we shall be judged on love.”

The kingdom of God is for all humankind. But did Jesus ever say that all humankind would enter the kingdom of God? Jesus died and rose back to life for all men and men and made them children of God. But do all men and women live as children of God? Jesus redeemed all peoples. But do all receive His gift of redemption? God loves us all. Do we truly love all peoples?

The kingdom of God has a door that is narrow and will close someday. If we dilly-dally, we will no wonder be locked out from that kingdom. Remember: Nothing can be too impressive for God except one – love.

Come without any delay and let us join God’s Club! It is not easy, but not impossible. Application forms are available for all in this Eucharist. Join now! What are we waiting for – the locking of doors?

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