Have you ever attended an exclusive party or entered an exclusive night club full of VIPs? Honestly, I never attended such an event but at some point in my life, I got curious of those exclusive parties. As a child I imagined about these parties and maybe they are filled with beautiful people wearing beautiful and expensive gowns and suits. Maybe those glamorous occasions were restricted to members who can afford to pay exorbitant fees. I can only imagine these things for I came from simple beginnings and has lived a simple life since.
Could we think of salvation as an exclusive party? The gospel describes it like a party with a very restrictive entrance. Jesus described salvation having a narrow door to which many will try to enter but will be deemed unworthy. It will be closed to those who “do not know where they came from.” Here Jesus sounds stern and serious but is he really very strict? Is God exclusive and selective in considering who he will invite to join the eternal banquet?
From the psalm for today (Ps 117), the shortest psalm in the Bible, it is clear that God abounds in love and mercy. God’s faithfulness to his people endures beyond his peoples’ existence. We also see in Luke and Isaiah that God’s love and mercy is universal.
In the first reading from the last chapter of Isaiah, God promises not only to Israel, his poeple, a final resting place full of abounding love at the end of time. He is intent to come to gather nations of every language in order for peoples to share ultimately in his glory. Luke in the gospel reading today also indicates that people from the “east and west, and from north and south” will “sit at the table in the kingdom of God.” God does not discriminate whom to invite to his kingdom. His invitation to salvation is indeed for all peoples.
But how do we make sense of the “narrow gate”?
Come to think of it, God’s call for all to be his flock entails that we follow his Son. Though easier said, to follow Jesus is not an easy way for many. Jesus asks us to love our enemies and turn our cheek. He asks that we free ourselves from our earthly attachments. Many times I faltered in this respect, how about you?
Furthermore, we cannot easily mold our hearts into the heart of Christ. Acquiring a heart of a lamb in the fold of the father requires constancy and discipline in loving. Christ’s knows that humans can get easily distracted by temptation and sin and could easily forget who they really are and where they came from. Nevertheless, God’s Word keeps on reminding us that we are God’s children.
So by any chance, if we arrived at the gate of heaven with a heart still clinging to those that led us away from God’s love, how can God claim us as His own? Aren’t we judged by our very own actions on earth? On the contrary, if we never get tired of following Christ and growing in a loving relationship with God through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, how can our Heavenly Father not know where we come from when we arrive at heaven’s gate?
God did not make heaven an exclusive party. God loves us and would like us to join the eternal banquet. He will only ask that we know deep in our hearts where we come from.