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Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

Eph. 6:1-9 & Lk. 13:22-30

“Children, be obedient to your parents in the Lord.” This is the command from Saint Paul in the First Reading today. I can only speak from experience but God gave me parents I loved and it was a delight, usually, to do what they asked of me - I knew that they loved me and I always wanted to please them.

If I had found them unloving and uncaring, I would have wanted to dodge doing what they wanted me to do. But if children do not have loving parents then, as St Paul says, obeying them is their duty. God attaches a promise to children who obey their parents that “you will prosper and have a long life in the land.”

Paul gives a warning to parents to “never drive your children to resentment, but in bringing them up correct them and guide them as the Lord does.” Again, if children realise just how much their parents love them, they will never drive them to resentment. The Lord loves us and so corrects us when we sin. So too parents who love their children, if they see them being wayward in the slightest way, will lovingly guide them along the right path. Loving children will accept such correction because they sense their parents know better and they are doing it for their good.

To those of us who work, St Paul tells us to treat our employer as though we were working for the Lord. He sees us all the time and so we will give of our best. Such work we do will surely please our boss. And Paul knows how employers can get the best from those whom they employ. “Be kind to them remembering that they and you have the same Master in heaven. In other words be conscious of the Lord in all that you do and all will be well.”

At first sight today's Gospel passage seems rather frightening. Jesus warns us that many people who, like the Jews, have taken it for granted that they will one day enter the kingdom of Heaven will in fact be disappointed. He describes the anguish of those who wanted to enter but were left outside. When He speaks of the “narrow door” He is in fact emphasising the difficulty involved in entering the kingdom of Heaven and urging us to keep trying our best. He is the Door, the Way, the Gate of the sheepfold, and we must enter through Him.

But Christ came to save everyone, including those many people who have never known Him. How will they enter the kingdom? Christ's sacrifice has made it possible for all, even pagans, to enter Heaven, provided they live according to His commandments. They are redeemed by Him even though they may not realise it. In this way everyone has the opportunity of passing through the narrow door which is Christ.

We who are Catholics cannot be self-satisfied. We are not guaranteed a place in the kingdom unless we try our best to follow Christ’s teaching. It is sometimes hard - that’s why He refers to His Way as a narrow door. He sets us a high standard and if we aim high we have a greater chance of success. We may actually be surprised at those who do succeed! Who would ever have thought that one of the thieves who died with Jesus would be among the first to enter Heaven? And yet Christ promised him, after one appeal of love, that that very day he would be with Him in Paradise. The people we might consider to be the last could be the first!

Heavenly Father, help us through Your Holy Spirit to approach our home in Heaven, through the narrow door.

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