TRUST – YES,
TRIVIALITY – NO
Modern society is pushing us more forcefully each day toward a life-style that is marked by a pragmatism of the immediate. It is barely interested in the great questions of existence. Nowadays we don’t have firm convictions or deep truths. Little by little we end up being converted into trivial people, loaded down with clichés, without inner strength or ideals that give breath to our daily living, beyond the welfare and the security of the moment.
It is significant to observe the attitude spread among not a few Christians when they are faced with the question of «eternal salvation» – a question that we were so concerned about until just a few years ago: a great number have succeeded in wiping it from their minds; some, without knowing why, feel that they have a right to a «happy end»; others no longer think about rewards or punishments.
According to Luke’s account, someone from the crowd asks Jesus a question that is common in that religious society: «Will there be only a few saved?». Jesus doesn’t respond directly to the question. He’s not interested in speculating about that type of question, so dear to some teachers of that age. He goes directly to what’s essential and decisive: how do we need to act in order to not be excluded from the salvation God offers us all?
«Try your hardest to enter by the narrow door». These are his first words. God opens the door of eternal life to all of us, but we have to make the effort and work to enter through it. This is the healthy attitude. Trust in God, yes; triviality, carelessness and false security, no.
Jesus insists, above all, that we not deceive ourselves with false securities. It’s not enough to belong to the people of Israel; it’s not sufficient to have known Jesus personally on the roads of Galilee. What’s decisive is entering right now in God’s Kingdom and in God’s justice. What’s more, those who end up outside of the final banquet are literally «those who practice injustice».
Jesus calls us to trust and responsibility. In the final banquet of God’s Kingdom not just the patriarchs and prophets of Israel will be there. Likewise the pagans from every corner of the world will be there. Being inside or outside depends on how each person responds to the salvation that God offers everyone.
Jesus ends with a proverb that sums up his message. As far as God’s reign is concerned, «there are those now last who will be first, and those now first who will be last». His warning is clear. Some who see themselves safely admitted can end up outside. Others who seem to be excluded out of hand can end up inside.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf