The readings for this 21st Sunday of the year in ordinary time, presents to us an insight on what we need to do if we want to be part of the heavenly banquet at the end of our earthly life. In the 1st reading and the gospel reading, we see the generosity of God towards us as his children and heirs of the kingdom of God; as presented in His inclusiveness. This stems from the fact that as many that are ready to be true children of God and to live their lives according to the gospel imperatives, will make salvation at the end of time. This is a message of hope, taking into consideration the inclusive nature of the invitation presented to us in the 1st reading and the gospel. We are all called to be part of this wonderful invitation.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, Jesus answers the question presented to him in the gospel very prudently by giving us an insight into what will help us to be part of those who will be saved at the end of time. Jesus is telling us that we must work hard to get in through the narrow gate. Like it is often said, nothing good comes easy; ‘we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling’. Thus, there must be a Good Friday before Easter Sunday. The big question today my brothers and sisters in Christ is, are we ready to enter through the narrow gate? To enter through the narrow gate means we are ready to drop some baggage’s that we are carrying and can stand as hindrance against us at the end of time. Some of these baggage’s may be habits we have that do not promote the imperatives of the gospel and do not represent us as heirs of the kingdom.

This will help us to appreciate what St. Paul is saying to us in the 2nd reading of this Sunday. It is a good father that chastises his children, and that is exactly what God is doing with us at different times in our lives. We can see this in his relationship with his chosen people, the Israelites. When they go astray, he disciplines them by allowing them to be defeated and conquered in war. But when they retrace their steps and correct their mistakes, he brings them back to himself again. He wishes us the best at all times, but disciplines us when it is necessary. In view of this my brothers and sisters in Christ, we may be going through one challenge or the other at the moment, have you taken time to reflect deeply about it and seek the face of God? What you need may just be to go to him with a humble and contrite heart; be truly sorry for your mistakes and plead for his mercy. He is ever willing to welcome us back like in the story of the prodigal son in St. Luke’s gospel ( Luke 15: 11-32).

Dear friends in Christ, we are all encouraged to make honest and sincere effort to enter through the narrow gate; Jesus himself. The more we make effort to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ as found in the scriptures, the brighter our chances of attaining salvation at the end of our earthly pilgrimage. Thus, we must strive to ensure that Jesus makes this journey with us at all times. Humanly speaking we may say it is very difficult or impossible; but with God everything is possible.

May God bless his words in our hearts! Peace be with you! Amen.

Homily for the 21st Sunday in ordinary time, year C by Fr. Jude Ifezime, C.S.Sp