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21st Sunday of Ordinary Time - Sr Carolyn Morrison RA

Année liturgique 2018-2019 [C]

The Narrow Door & A Regular Prayer Life (Luke 13:22-28)


In last week’s gospel Jesus said that he had ‘come to set the world on fire’… (Lk. 12:49). This week Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem when someone in the crowd asks, ‘Lord will only a few be saved ? (Lk.13:23) Jesus’ answer sounds both indirect and conditional. He says, ‘strive to enter through the narrow door ; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able’ (Lk.13:24). We do not know what motivated the inquirer to ask the question however the mention of Jerusalem suggests that Jesus was thinking about his own death and reunion with God. 

We then learn that there is a danger that, for some, the door will be shut (Lk.13:25). The meaning of this is that we must prepare ourselves in due time for our own day of reckoning and not leave it to the last minute. Jesus continues his discourse with a further warning, He says that, when people say, ‘Lord open to us’… the reply will be, ‘I do not know where you come from’ (Lk.13:25). This answer seems somewhat harsh, after all these people were claiming to be part of the Church, ‘we ate and drunk with you, and you taught in our streets’ (Lk. 13:26), which suggests they were practicing their faith by sharing in the Eucharistic feast and listening to His Word. Then things really start to sound quite ominous, for He says that, ‘there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’ (Lk. 13:28). This is a stark warning indeed. 

A way of getting to know and love God is by integrating our faith into our daily life. The Examen which is derived from Jesuit spirituality, a prayer that St Marie Eugenie was particularly fond of, is a daily exercise that helps us to be reconciled to God at the end of each day. We also have the prayer of compline, which invites us to look over the day for moments where we felt God’s presence or felt His absence. 

Yet not everyone is familiar with these forms of prayer and our busy schedules sometimes get in the way. Arrow prayers, like, Jesus I love you, Jesus thank you for…, Jesus I am sorry that I … and so on are a great ways of spending few heartfelt moments throughout the day with God. We need not wait until the end of the day to get to know and love Him. It is something that we can all do no matter how busy we are. You may think is this all really necessary ? I went to Mass on Sunday is that not good enough ? It is a good start. 

However filled with self-righteousness and self-importance, like those depicted walking on the red carpet in the painting, is a sure way of missing the turning for the narrow door. 

Jesus tells us that we are to ‘enter in at the strait gate ’ if we are to be saved. Some biblical scholars say that this translation ‘strait gate’ rather than ‘narrow door’ is more appropriate because it refers to one of the actual entrances into Jerusalem, better known as the Beautiful Gate, which is situated on the Eastern side of the City. Furthermore the ‘strait gate’ reminds us of a road called Straight Street which is just around the corner on the North side of the City, facing Damascus. It is the road where St Paul encountered Ananias (Acts 9:11) and was healed from his blindness. It was a place of refuge and healing for St Paul after his conversion. 

Jesus’ advice to enter through the strait gate, so as to be saved, suggests that we need more than mere actions, we need daily conversion. Our attitude needs to be one of complete heartfelt love, a turning towards (conversion to) the one who loves us. Practically speaking, this means that a regular prayer life and spiritual self-examination are essential if we truly want to know and be known by Christ. 

Sr Carolyn Morrison RA 
Kensington Community, England


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