The Narrow Door | Friar Reflections | The Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Parishioners,

Saints of God, the Lord be with you!

What caught my attention in today’s Gospel according to Luke (13:2230) are the lines Jesus says, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.”

Years ago, as I was walking across the parking lot of St. Francis Church on Long Beach Island, NJ, for daily mass, I suddenly stopped and said to myself, “O my God, I believe it all!” I realized that while I didn’t understand it all, I believed everything in the Creed and the Gospel portraits of Jesus. You might find this a bit shocking that a priest would come to this realization, but I see it as a moment of clarity that had been growing into a conscious affirmation. Yet this is not the end of my story, since belief in Christ is the starting point from which trust in Christ must grow. My ability to trust in God is growing day by day, and when I find myself fearful, I say to myself, “God is trustworthy, all circumstances are temporary.”

St. Augustine by Philippe de Champaigne | 1650

However, even trusting in God is not the end of my faith journey. What I still struggle with is turning my trust into works of charity and kindness, particularly to those people who are not my “cup of tea.” It’s at this point that I must make the choice to be loving, especially when I don’t feel loving. Choosing to act kindly toward others is, I think, part of the easy yoke and light burden that Jesus speaks about in Matthew 11:30. It’s easy because we are all made in the image and likeness of God who through the indwelling Holy Spirit given to us in the sacraments, shares our burdens, and calls us into community to help each other.

The sacraments, especially the Eucharist, nourish our identity as the Body of Christ in the world, and enable us to choose to live out our identity as the Body of Christ. In the words of St. Augustine when looking at the Eucharistic Bread and Wine, “See Who you are! Become Who you receive!” and I add, “Live Who you become!”

One of the small acts of kindness I love here at Sacred Heart is the opportunity to hold open the door to the Church as the People of God gather for Mass on Sunday. I love saying, “Good morning, good people” or “Good morning, holy family” for that is who you are. If each of us held the door open for one another in the world, I believe that in time the world would be a better place. And an open door is a beautiful image of the person of Jesus Christ.

Peace and all good,
Fr. Steve