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Sunday:       21 st Sunday of Ordinary Time
Date:         August 21, 2016.
Year:         C
The readings: [Is. 66:18-21; Heb. 12:5-7, 11-13; Lk. 13:22-30]
The message:  Strive to enter through the narrow door.
Prepared by:  Catholic Doors Ministry
Total words:  1640

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** The readings follow the sermon.

Jesus said, "Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able." [Lk. 13:24] To many, these Words of Jesus are very disturbing. They imply that few will be saved. This certainly opposes the present trend of many believers who hold that Jesus is full of love and mercy, that He is not a God of fear. He understands our human weaknesses and, in His mercy, He will forgive everyone of everything.

While there is no doubt that Jesus is full of love and mercy, is His love and mercy as perceived by the general population? When someone asked Jesus, "Lord, will only a few be saved?", was this question based on the teachings of Jesus that he had heard, these implying that many are lost? Did Jesus not say, "Strive to enter through the narrow door," this implying that unless such is done, there is no salvation?

When we consider the love and mercy of Jesus, we come to perceive that His love draws us towards "the truth, the way and the life" [Jn. 14:6] so we may find our salvation through His mercy. To qualify for the mercy of Jesus, there must be a conversion, the complete change of heart of a repentant soul that is firmly committed to embracing the truth that opens the way to eternal life in the Kingdom of God.

The soul that is firmly committed to following Jesus, in cooperation with the grace of God, it is set apart to obey and serve the Lord in full submission. Its outlook of a successful spiritual growth is, "Your will Lord." Its outlook of a successful spiritual growth is not, "My way Lord."

Unfortunately, many believers today are just that, "believers." Their status of "Catholic" is based on belonging to a Catholic family and having been baptized as infants. As far as practicing their living faith in Christ, such is non-present. They are Catholic by name only.

Those who are Catholic by name only, since they are not practicing their faith, they are not receiving the Sacraments. Since they are not receiving the Sacraments, especially those of Confession and the Holy Eucharist, they are living in an ongoing state of sin and they are rejecting the gift of eternal life in the Kingdom of God that is bestowed to those who feed on the Bread of Life. (the Holy Eucharist)

Naturally, in such cases, it is understandable why few are saved. Many have chosen the worldly ways by taking the wide road to perdition.

In His parable, Jesus said, "When once the owner of the house has got up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, 'Lord open to us,' then in reply he will say to you, 'I do not know where you come from.' Then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.' But the Lord will say, 'I do not know where you come from; go away from me, all you evildoers!'" [Lk. 13:25-7]

What is interesting to note in this parable is that those who tried to enter Heaven, they said, "We ate and drank with You." They ate and drank with the Lord Jesus, these words implying they were receiving the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. If such is the case, why are they lost? Why does Jesus say that He does not know them, that they are evildoers? There are two possible answers to this question.

First of all, it may refer to those who eat the bread or drink the cup in an unworthy manner. On this subject Saint Paul said, "Whoever, therefore, eats the bread and drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgment against themselves. For this reason many of you are weak and ill, and some have died." [1 Cor. 11:27- 30]

In other words, those who receive Holy Communion in a state of sin, they will receive judgment against themselves. The Lord Jesus instituted the Sacrament of Confession for a reason. It is for the soul to be forgiven of its sins, to be made righteous in the eyes of God. If the believers want to receive the Sacrament of the Holy Communion, prior to doing so, they must be free of mortal sins.

The Second possible reason as to why many are lost is also found in the First Letter to the Corinthians. In verse 3:11, we read, "For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid, that foundation is Jesus Christ." [1 Cor. 3:11] In other words, Jesus has laid one foundation, the Holy Catholic Church. No one can lay another foundation and claim that it is the foundation of Jesus Christ. To partake in communion in another Church where its members do not believe in the ongoing real Presence of Jesus in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is to partake in a meal where Jesus is not present. While the members of such a Church may claim to have eaten and drank with Jesus, such was not the case. Jesus does not know them because they did not sit at His table in His Church.

When considering some of the religions that I am about to name, it should be noted that they were not instituted by Jesus Christ. The Anglican Church was instituted by King Henry VIII in 1534. The Assembly of God was instituted from a revival movement in 1914. The Baptist Church was instituted by John Smyth in 1607. The Buddhist faith was instituted by Budda, the Prince of Siddhartha Guatama in 500 B.C. The Calvinist Church was instituted by John Calvin in 1533. The Christian Science Church was instituted by Mary Baker Eddy in 1879. The Church of Nazarene was instituted by the Union of General Assembly in 1919. The Congregationalist Church was instituted by Robert Brown in 1582. The Dutch Reformed Church was instituted by Michelis Jones in 1628. The Eastern Orthodox Church was instituted by the Patriarchs of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem in 1054. The Episcopalian Church was instituted by Samuel Seabury in 1789. And the list goes on.

None of these Churches were instituted by Jesus Christ. They may all claim to be the true Church, but such cannot be. When Jesus gave the keys to the kingdom of Heaven to Saint Peter, He said, "And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church..." [Mt. 16:18-9] Let me repeat these Words of Jesus, "I will build my church," not their Churches. There is only One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church that was instituted by Jesus. No one can lay any foundation other than by adding to the existing foundation of the Holy Catholic Church for the growth of the Body of Christ. Anyone who builds another foundation, such is being done in disobedience to God, in rejection of the foundation of Jesus Christ as being imperfect. Such is building a man made foundation, claiming that this new foundation is better than the foundation of Jesus Christ.

Indeed, many are lost because they do not choose the narrow door. They prefer a religion that is not too demanding, one that does not make it mandatory to attend Mass every Sunday. They reject the ongoing real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist once the bread and wine have been consecrated. They want their way, not God's way. By that I mean they support abortion, the death penalty, divorce, married priests, same sex marriage, anything and everything, as long as it embraces the modern trends that change from year to year, depending on the whims of the people.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, the narrow door is symbolic of the hardships of life for those who follow Jesus. It is symbolic of accepting poverty, being of a charitable heart, forgiving others, being patient, etc... It is symbolic of not being ashamed of Jesus, of going forward and proudly speaking of His salvation. It is symbolic of accepting persecution for the sake of the Most Holy Name of Jesus. Jesus said, "Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels." [Mk. 8:38]

What hope do we have of salvation if Jesus will be ashamed of us? None! What hope do we have of salvation if we reject the One Church of Jesus so we can belong to another one that was man made? None! Will the founder of that other Church save us? Certainly not! What hope do we have of salvation if we eat the Bread or drink the Cup in an ongoing state of mortal sin? None!

Jesus said to strive to enter the narrow door. As such, we cannot afford to follow the modern trends. We cannot afford to belong to any Church other than the Church that was instituted by Jesus Himself. We cannot afford to want our way versus His way.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, let us reflect upon these words in the coming week. Let us assess our obedience to God, [pause...] our servitude [pause...] and our submission to His Divine Will. With a sincerity of heart, let us pray to the Lord Jesus, asking Him to transform us in such a way that we will always be pleasing in His eyes.


The readings...

[The readings were taken from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (C) 1989 Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the United States of America.]
First Reading...

"Thus says the Lord: 'For I know their works and their thoughts, and I am coming to gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and shall see my glory, and I will set a sign among them.

From them I will send survivors to the nations, to Tarshish, Put, and Lud - which draw the bow - to Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands far away that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the nations.

They shall bring all your kindred from all the nations as an offering to the Lord, on horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and on mules, and on dromedaries, to my holy mountain Jerusalem,' says the Lord, 'just as the Israelites bring a grain offering in a clean vessel to the house of the Lord.

And I will also take some of them as priests and as Levites,' says the Lord." [Is. 66:18-21]


Second Reading...

"Brothers and sisters: And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as children - 'My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, or lose heart when you are punished by him; for the Lord disciplines the ones whom he loves, and chastises every son whom he accepts.'

Endure trials for the sake of discipline. God is treating you as sons; for what son is there whom a father does not discipline?

Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed." [Heb. 12:5-7, 11-13]


Gospel Reading...

Jesus went through one town and village after another, teaching as he made hiw way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, 'Lord, will only a few be saved?"

Jesus said to them, 'Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able.

When once the owner of the house had got up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, 'Lord, open to us,' then in reply he will say to you, 'I do not know where you come from.'

Then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.' But the Lord will say, 'I do not know where you come from; go away from me, all you evildoers!'

There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrown out. Then people will come from east and west, from north and south, and will eat in the kingdom of God.

Indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.'" [Lk. 13:22-30]



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