We all look for the "get out of jail free" card or the "free pass" or the "open invitation - all are welcome" sign in most aspects of our lives. There was even an evangelization effort in a parish of our diocese a few years ago that advertised "All are welcome!" And while it is true that the invitation to the heavenly banquet is open and meant for all, the reality is that it is NOT free. The entrance fee for this invitation has been paid for by the Lord at a great cost - the pouring out of his blood on the tree of the cross. It has been won by the ultimate sacrifice given freely and given in love, death at a great price. And as we are reminded today in the Gospel passage, on our part we must so desire entrance into the Kingdom, so desire an intimate relationship with the living God, that we are willing to focus upon him, endure all for the sake of the Kingdom, and enter through the narrow gate. While entrance does provide redemption and brings forgiveness, it is not a "get out of jail free" card but requires repentance and relies on mercy. While freedom is the hallmark of those signed with the blood of the lamb, it is no "free pass" to enter and do anything I want or nothing at all - rather it requires us to commit our lives to Christ and his people and to be Church. And while all are welcome, it will be the remnant, the small few among the invited who remain faithful who will ultimately share in the Master's joy.
While this word sounds restrictive and limiting, it is in reality freeing and life giving. May we enter through the narrow gate. May we focus upon Christ. May we enjoy the blessings of his love.
Sorry for the break in the action these last few days. Early last week I had a routine test that people of a certain age need every so many years which requires some wonderful prep - lots of drinking of the prep mixture and then lots of running. All was fine with the test. Then my sister and I went to Erie, PA for a few days to visit friends and relax. We saw Bishop Lawrence Persico at dinner on Wednesday evening - he is the bishop of Erie and a priest of our diocese. But, back to work, with a weekend already under my belt. It is good to be home.