Where are you from?
Nobody likes disappointment. Dealing with it can be a difficult lesson that many of us learn in childhood and some still struggle to learn as adults. Yes, we can learn to avoid disappointment in a number of ways like being prepared, having proper expectations, and knowing a given situation. For example, we don’t expect a friend who is always chronically late to be punctual. It’s a matter of managing expectations. That’s why we tell such a friend everything starts at 10 am when really it begins at 10.30, in the hope that they will get there for the start! (Don’t try that one too often or they’ll get wise to you.)
Our Gospel this week gives us a somewhat troubling story of those who were undoubtedly disappointed. They stand t the door and knock only to be told:
“I don’t know where you come from, away from me.”
This passage and others in the gospels remind us of an uncomfortable, perhaps disappointing truth. The effective answer to the question to Jesus, “Sir, will there be only a few saved?” that many will attempt it but be disappointed, even some who know the Lord, who ate and drank in His company, will be shut out. Such a message is far from the feel good, open wide, broad path to salvation that we all might imagine or hope for, where everyone gets to heaven, especially those of us who come to Mass on Sundays, don’t they? But that warning to those who know the Lord should fall squarely on us!
A relationship with Christ is not an insurance policy whereby we pay our premiums (Mass on Sundays, Confession once a year etc.) and expect a settlement when needed, heaven. This relationship with the Son of God is not so transactional that we do x,y, and z and Jesus in returns grants us forgiveness and salvation. No, salvation is a gift, not a reward that we’ve earned. It’s undeserved no matter how much we might feel we deserve it. The narrow door, Jesus speaks of, is the narrow door of living the faith day by day, in our prayers and adoration, our generosity, our forgiveness, our help, love and service to others, our being the hands, the feet, the eyes, the love of Jesus, in the family, the community, the world. It is the showing ‘where we are from’. We are from Jesus, we are from mercy, love and peace, forgiveness, truth and hope. We are the children of God. The failures, the disappointed, the betrayed, who nevertheless hope, love and strive in faith towards that narrow gate, because we know we daily receive mercy, forgiveness, hope and love, we will never deserve but which Jesus freely gives, to those who truly strive to follow Him and share it with others.
Let’s show where we are from, aiming for that narrow gate.
Fr David Jones OLW