Through the narrow door
by Jacqui-Theresa Leiba
In this Sunday’s gospel, we see Jesus teaching and preaching through towns and villages on the way to Jerusalem. There is not much time left and He desires the conversion of hearts for the Kingdom of God. He is tireless in spreading His salvific message.
In response to “Sir, will there only be a few saved?” Jesus says “Try your best to enter by the narrow door…many will try to enter and will not succeed.” Jesus does not explicitly say what or where the narrow door is; though it does seem, by His words, that there is a certain best effort required.
Perhaps the narrow door may be likened to the desires and motives of the human heart; where the treasure is. A heart that knows “Thy kingdom come” means my Kingdom go is beginning to perhaps perceive the narrow door. It includes a gradual detachment from the ideas about true happiness and the emotional, often negative responses about passing things; people and events that are opposed to the values of the gospel. It is a genuine desire for the deeply transformative message that Jesus offers. It is to be doers of the word out of love.
In the parable, the master has locked the door. The people plead: “We once ate and drank in your company; you taught in our streets”. This may be likened to receiving Eucharist—eating and drinking in the Lord’s company—and hearing and raving about a good homily, but the humiliating and humbling work of introspection remains somehow undone. The Master’s messages have not yet penetrated to the innermost being.
The master further reprimands, “I do not know where you come from. Away from me, all you wicked men!” The sentence, “I do not know where you come from,” is twice stated. Perhaps the master repeats the message because those who are locked out are confused by his action and he wants to clear up any misunderstanding. They do not know that their true motives are being judged by the master.
These motives form and inform their own deeply ingrained patterns of behaviour. The ideas for happiness based on the needs of the unhealthy ego, being esteemed by others, feeling somehow superior in positions of authority. These create an inner rebellion to the real work that is required for a deeper, more transformative life. This is the darkness that exists in the hidden motives of the doer.
In seeing the master in the parable as Jesus, we recall that God is Light and in Him there is no darkness, no hidden motives or agendas, only love for love’s sake. The people truly did not know the master, and what is even sadder, they did not know that they did not know him. It is no wonder there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.
The divided heart with its attachments to false treasure will eventually result in great sadness; since old, rebellious ways have not been surrendered to the promise of new life. Others perceived as being outsiders, those from the east, west, north and south, strangers who are not members of the club, race, creed or tradition, but have been faithful out of a sincere love of God and others will join in the feast and be seated alongside the prophets.
The ones who, by their own estimation, were once first, will be on the outside looking in finding themselves left out of the feast and not fully realising that the desires and motives of the heart, the narrow door, is the key to discipleship.
The Gospel reflections for August were by Jacqui-Theresa Leiba, a parishioner of St Patrick’s RC Church, Newtown, Port of Spain. She is a wife, mother, author, teacher and a member of the group of Spiritual Directors at Emmaus Centre, Arima.