Sunday, August 25, 2018

+ 21st Sunday C +

The harshness of this passage is colored by Jewish-Christian tensions when Luke was writing his gospel. Usually the door is barred when the master goes to bed.  Here it is barred when herises.

Luke is telling his gentile readers that, with the resurrection, salvation is open to them (as Isaiah prophesied) and to the few of Israel who welcomed the Lord—the rest will be shut out.

But this really isn’t about Jews and gentiles. It’s about a temptation that exists in every religion in every age. Richard Rohr:

Religion has not tended to create seekers or searchers, has not tended to create honest, humble people who trust that God is always beyond them…Religion has, rather, tended to create people who think they have God in their pockets, people with quick, easy, glib answers. That’s why so much of the West is understandably abandoning religion. People know the great mystery cannot be that simple and facile. If the great mystery is really the Great Mystery, it will lead us into paradox, into darkness, into journeys that never cease…That is what prayer is about.[i]

You know the brand of religion that has black and white answers for everything but is blind to its own smug intolerance, excusing itself from listening to, getting to know, walking with people in the complexities of their lives.

It does us no good to eat and drink in his company—even here—if we are not “making our way to Jerusalem” with him.

“Try to come in through the narrow door” means letting my life be squeezed, stretched, molded by his life, death and resurrection.

squeeze through struggles and suffering to the new life beyond. I let my own sins, weaknesses, contradictions teach me compassion. I am stretched by getting mixed up in other people’s lives and struggles.

Until I embrace my own frailty and incompleteness in this world, I cannot discover that the deepest yearning I have is for God—and that nothing and no one else will finally give me joy.

Until I do that, I spend my life seeking the ideal mate, house, job, cause—waiting for a bus that is never going to come.  I work way too hard because I need to be in charge and in control.

Knocking on the door, is the beginning. Sitting in the dark, listening, not having answers is the beginning.

Charles de Foucauld, missionary, mystic, hermit of the Sahara, was martyred in 1916.  Before his conversion, he used sit for hours in a Paris church silently asking:  “My God, if you exist, make your existence known to me.”

There is a Presence in that silence that looks on you with affection and compassion.

Experience that silent Presence, and you will begin to see yourself and others as flawed, contradictory, and beautiful. You will begin to look on others as God does, with affection and insight.

You will find yourself willing to lay down your life to hand on life.

If the great mystery is really the Great Mystery, it will lead us into paradox, into darkness, into journeys that never cease…That is what prayer is about.

[i]Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer.   Crossroad: NY. 1999 p. 33

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