Kickoff Wk 1: All In
21st Sunday in Ordinary Time: Kickoff Week 1: All In
Jesus speaks of the narrow gate which reminds me of a turnstile at a sporting event. Only one person can go through at a time, and often with a turnstile you cannot carry a bunch of stuff (your baggage) in with you because you won’t fit through the gate. In consideration of Jesus’ narrow gate, our baggage represents our excuses about why we did not do this or that during our earthly life.
When we die and step forward to meet Jesus, it is just you and him. No baggage, no excuses. It is just you or me what you and I have done and what you and I have failed to do, now, standing before the Lord.
Speaking of a turnstile at a sporting event, if you play sports you can’t just stand on the sidelines, sit in the dugout, or be a bench warmer. If you are going to be committed to playing well, you have to be all in.
It is the same with your faith. Christianity is not a spectator sport, you cannot just show up here and sit in the pew. For Christ to acknowledge you, you have to be all in. That is exactly what the gospel is about today.
As we begin our new message series titled “Kickoff”, we will be kicking off many of our parish ministries over the next few weeks, and we reflect upon that turnstile, that narrow gate, and whether or not we are all in or just taking up space in a pew. And, yes, when the Lord judges us, we do approach him individually on our own, at that point no one else can help us.
Is there a message of hope here? Is what Jesus said today a motivational speech, or a doom and gloom speech? Jesus didn’t even seem to answer the question the people asked him: “Who can be saved”? We need to also reflect on the phrase “I do not know where you come from,” because Jesus says it twice.
‘I do not know where you are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!’ I hope he does not say that to you or me.
Where we come from can be understood as the source of our actions, our motivation, our intent, etc. If we do not keep our whole life centered on and rooted in God, we can be led astray. We could ultimately end up being called an “evil doer”. It all rests with God. Our desire and willingness to do God’s will in our life, despite our weaknesses, will be important.
Jesus tells us that the narrow gate is the path that few people find. Most people in the world are going another way. Most people have chosen the path of least resistance. But you and I are called to take a path less traveled.
It is a path that requires us to love our enemies and to forgive those who harm us. It is a path that requires sacrifice and dedication. There might be times when we see our family and friends following a different path than we are. They might even ask us why we take our faith so seriously. Their lives may seem so much easier and we may wonder if we have made the right choice. But make no mistake. If we want to be in the company of Jesus, the way will not always be smooth, and our friends and family won’t always be cheering us on.
Jesus goes on to say that many will attempt to enter the narrow gate but will not be strong enough. He means that only those who are accustomed to making sacrifices for the good of others will have the strength to make it through the narrow gate. On the other hand, those who run after pleasures and whose whole existence is centered on getting what they want, will be too out of shape to push through the narrow gate that leads to life.
How do you feel about this gospel? I mean really? I don’t necessarily like being told this stuff by Jesus. How about you?
Let me put it this way. You and I want to live our lives in such a way so as to strengthen an everlasting relationship with God.
Knowing Jesus and having a good relationship with him is at the heart of our faith. The Gospel makes it clear that our destiny depends on the outcome of our encounter with Christ. Our salvation depends on whether or not we know Jesus. Simply claiming to have spent time with him does not count. To get through that narrow gate, that turnstile, you have to be all in.
Are you yourself a “tourist” of the Church, a bench warmer, a pew warmer, or someone invested, someone who is all in?
Jesus does not want us to merely go through the motions of faith. He wants much more from us and for us. He wants to know us deeply and for us to get to know him so that we become his holy disciples. This is not a burden; it is a privilege, but it does require action and dedication on our part. We must be all in.
At the end of the Gospel passage, Jesus leaves us with great hope that it is indeed possible to make it through the narrow gate. He tells us, “People will come from the east and the west, and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the kingdom of God.” Holiness of life is not a game, but we do have to be all in. True discipleship is meant for everyone — young and old, rich and poor, powerful and lowly.
Being a disciple is not easy, and if we hope ever to find our way to our heavenly home, we also have to remember this isn’t a journey we can make alone. We have to take others with us, take them by the hand, walk with them, and help them thrive, help them on their path to discipleship. What an irony that the only way we’ll ever find our way home is by helping others find their way.
We have designed something to help you help others find their way home while you too make that journey. You can do all of that through our small groups.
Our Groups will begin meeting the week of September 11th. You can sign up today to be an active participant in the church, someone who is all in by joining a small group and helping others on their path of discipleship while you also grow as a disciple.
Where will we end up when we die?
The only way we’ll ever find our way home, and through that narrow gate, all alone, is by helping others find their way, through the gate and all the way home.
Please help others find their way home by inviting others to be in our small groups. Invite others who have fallen away or not active in their Catholic faith. It is a great opportunity to do what our bishop is asking us to do by sharing the gift. We are talking about evangelization, sharing the gift of our faith. A lot of us don’t know how to do this, and we can help you. Just come to a small group and invite someone to join you. It’s that simple.
You know, it’s great to be in a small group with your friends and groups you are already in, but think of someone you can invite outside your group to journey with, so that what you are doing is being a great disciple who is making other disciples. That’s what it means to be all in.
Our small groups kick off the week of September 11th. Are you all in?
We ask you to join a small group today by going to our website saintmary.life and click on the image on our homepage for small groups. Are you all in?