21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

In today’s Gospel Our Lord warns that salvation is like a narrow door where not everyone is admitted. This is because salvation requires going to distance, determination in the face of difficulty, virtue, and grace. In today’s First Reading the Lord describes knowledge of him spreading to the ends of the earth, even where no one has heard of it before. If that implies going far and wide it also implies a long distance between the Lord and those who want to journey toward him. People have to come from far and wide too, and a long journey is not an easy journey. It implies taking a direction in life and to keep moving in that direction.

It will not just be a long road, but a difficult and tiring one that requires discipline and determination. In today’s Second Reading the Lord is described as a Father coaching his children to train themselves well and to keep pushing and striving. A life of virtue is a life of discipline and effort; it can be tiring, but the long term effects make it all worthwhile. Our life may be a battle on this earth, but when we are saved, it will all have been worthwhile.

Lastly, and most importantly, salvation requires grace. The First Reading described news of the Lord spreading everywhere in order to enable people to come to him. The evildoer’s in the description of today’s Gospel come from a place unknown to the Master: if there is somewhere where the Gospel is not found, it is where evil and sin are found. Being in grace means being in communion with God; it means being part of his family and recognized as such, and God takes the initiative to offer it to us and make it grow in our lives.

Don’t be discouraged by the distance and difficulty that still lies ahead. Our Lord has sent you the Gospel to get your bearings, your fellow Christians to coach and encourage you, and his grace to be welcomed in the Father’s house. You’ll make it.

Readings: Isaiah 66:18–21; Psalm 117:1, 2; Hebrews 12:5–7, 11–13; Luke 13:22–30.