Tuesday, June 23, 2015

“It was the thief's last prayer, perhaps even his first. He knocked once, sought once, asked once, dared everything, and found everything.”

“What does this "narrow door" mean? Why do many not succeed in entering through it? Is it a way reserved for only a chosen few? No! The message of Christ is that «everyone may enter life, but the door is "narrow" for all. We are not privileged. The passage to eternal life is open to all, but it is "narrow" because it is demanding: it requires commitment, self-denial and the mortification of one's selfishness”. - Pope Benedict XVI (Served as Pope of the Catholic Church from 2005 until his resignation in 2013)

Gospel Text: (MT 7:6, 12-14)
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine,
lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces.

“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.
This is the Law and the Prophets.

“Enter through the narrow gate;
for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction,
and those who enter through it are many.
How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life.
And those who find it are few.”

In our Gospel reading for today, Jesus continues His Sermon on the Mount. He says the Golden Rule: “Do to others what you would have them do to you.” He speaks to them about how difficult it can be to follow the proper path “that leads to life,” by using the image of the “narrow gate” and the “constricted” road. Before this, however, He interprets Proverbs 23:9: “Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces.”

Last week tragedy touched the hearts of many people around the world due to the actions of Dylann Roof at the Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina here in the United States of America. Whatever the motivation of this misguided 21 year-old young man, it was another senseless act of violence. What has moved many people, however, has been the words of forgiveness spoken to the man accused of the crime by the families of those lost in the violence. While the families spoke haltingly and movingly about their grief, they also lived out their faith by speaking words of forgiveness!

We could say, “Why waste your words of forgiveness on such an animal as the one who perpetrated this crime? Did you not hear what Jesus said about casting pearls before swine?” It may be true that their words have no effect on the young man - at least at this point in his life. But I hope they can have some effect on the rest of us! In a society where faith is increasingly seen as irrelevant and forgiveness as mere idiocy, these loved ones of the victims have cast “pearls” before us. Can we recognize them for what they are? Can we reach out to each other and seek to build up the kingdom? May we not let these “pearls” slip through our fingers and continue on as we have done before! May we follow the example of our sisters and brothers at Emmanuel and show the world that it is better to go through the “narrow gate!”

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