Dear Parishioners and Friends,
While I was preparing the cover for this week’s bulletin, I Googled “narrow door” and found an image of a truly narrow door which is located in the Monastery of Alcobaça, Portugal. But everything is not always what it seems! According to several websites and other social media, the door in the photo was once referred to as an “anti-gluttony door.” Located in the monks’ refectory, if a monk had grown too large to fit through the door, he would not be able to get his food from the kitchen. At just a little more than a foot-and-a-half wide, I doubt many of us would ever eat again! Who needs Peloton when you have an anti-gluttony door?
In reality, the door was merely a pass-through for plates, and no one was expected to actually walk through it. In fact, the website “fakehistoryhunter.net” has a photo of the door taken from a different angle, which shows another door just several feet away through which a monk or two of considerable girth could easily fit.
All of this notwithstanding, in today’s Gospel, Jesus urges his listeners to “strive to enter through the narrow gate.” This is in answer to someone who asked him, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” He goes on to speak about one’s readiness or willingness to commit him- or herself to the kingdom of God. In other words, we must try to resist the temptation to think that Christian discipleship is an easy, comfortable undertaking. If only lip service is paid to our faith in Christ, then we run the risk of finding ourselves unable to pass through the narrow door or gate to true and lasting happiness in the kingdom. Jesus also mentions how people who claim to have eaten and drunk in his company will find themselves locked out of the house if they haven’t taken his teachings to heart.
These are not easy or comforting words to hear. This section of Luke’s Gospel is filled with teachings that emphasize our need to make a conscious, determined effort to discipleship, and that demands may be placed on us which are, indeed, difficult or painful to put into practice. But we must always remember that Jesus is not speaking only about our life here on earth. He is always pointing towards eternity and the value of living, not just in the present, but with an eye towards the future – a future of unending joy and gladness in the kingdom of God.
What I have witnessed, and continue to witness here at St. Patrick-St. Anthony is just that – a community of faith-filled people who consciously and conscientiously respond to the demands of the Gospel by putting their faith into practice in manifold ways. I am especially inspired when I see our young people doing their part, like making sandwiches, collecting food, planting vegetables, greeting, lectoring or leading the music at Mass. I see it when our parishioners undertake projects to make the burdens of others a bit lighter and their lives a bit more joyful. These are ones who have chosen the narrower path rather than the quicker, easier detour. After all, Jesus said it more than once, as he says it at the end of today’s Gospel: “Some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”
Blessings on your week ahead.
Fr. Tim Shreenan, O.F.M.