Two weeks ago, we had a Gospel Reading in which Jesus said:
“Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master’s return. . .” At the Masses Deacon Jim preached at – he referred to this as the “Boy Scout” Gospel – as we are always supposed to be prepared for Jesus’ return. . .
With that in mind, I decided today’s Gospel should be called the “Indiana Jones” Gospel. . .
Although the movie, “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” is 20 years old – many of us may recall its final scenes.
Indiana is paired up with his father against the Nazi’s to be the first to find the Holy Grail – the cup used by Jesus at the last supper.
To get to it, Indy must overcome three challenges: The breath of God, the Word of God, and the Wrath of God – it is the final challenge which concerns us. . .
After getting through the razor sharp wheels and escaping from falling into a pit --- Indy goes through a narrow door and encounters a deep canyon which he must cross.
According to his father’s guide book – only a leap from the lion’s head will get one safely across
– but no one, Indy concludes, can leap such a great distance.
He finally discerns that it is a leap of faith that is called for and after taking a few deep breathes, he steps off the edge of the cliff – only to find there is a camouflaged bridge of rock which safely gets him across the canyon, into the cave, and to the cup of Christ.
A leap of faith – not only gets Indiana Jones to the Holy Grail – but it gets us through the narrow gate and on the narrow road that leads to eternal life – which Jesus talks about in today’s Gospel.
Today’s world is filled with a multitude of enticing distractions.
Megamalls, megaplexes, massive sports venues, super centers and endless cable channels that can easily occupy every moment of our day.
The world is only as far away as our fingertips via the internet and social media has brought us to another level of communication that can occupy unhealthy amounts of our time.
Materialism, secularism, humanism, and relativism are ever present and vying for our attention and hopeful submission.
The world offers a wide path for us filled with endless entertainment venues, indulgences of every kind, and abundant frivolity while ignoring God’s laws in favor of its own.
However, followers of Jesus Christ are called to traverse a different route, joining him instead on the road less traveled. Jesus clearly stated this when he said, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.”
Jesus was and is fully aware that the narrow gate and the narrow road on which he invites us to journey with him – is not an easy one – but it is the sure and steady path which leads to the kingdom of God.
It is often fraught with suffering, thorns, thickets, and the accusation that we are a little odd. It is a road upon which we may stumble and fall from time to time or perhaps even stray from – only to find that the path the world has laid out for us has led to a dead end cul-de-sac which ultimately fails to satisfy.
Entering the narrow gate and staying on the narrow path to eternal life – is a choice we make every day. It requires prayer, faith, grace, focus, and discipline – all the while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus.
There is no greater example than Christ himself as he walked bloodied, bruised, and whipped along the way to the cross. Christ has provided us with the ultimate example of entering through the narrow gate and embarking on the narrow road while embracing his cross with love. By his example, we too are called to follow him in lovingly carrying crosses that are uniquely our own.
So which road are you on? It is often during times of trial, when the rubber meets the road that we might be tempted to veer off and go our own way. So with all of today’s distractions, distortions, and difficulties, let’s pray for the grace to remain on the narrow thoroughfare of this life – so that we may be with Christ in the life to come.
So we heed the advice of the writer of Hebrews:
“strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees. Make straight paths for your feet.”
Like Indiana Jones – we need to take the leap of faith to enter the narrow gate and with the help of our faith --- stay on the narrow road that leads to eternal life.
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