I once heard a story about a very kind elderly woman who had one daughter.
She loved her daughter and always looked forward to seeing and being with her.
The daughter however was often busy and unable to come and visit.
Sometimes she could not even spare the time to talk on the phone with her Mom.
There was always some pressing issue that needed attention or she just had so much on her plate.
When she did come to visit she often arrived late, stayed a short time and left early.
The mother never got angry, she never held a grudge, she always forgave her daughter even though she longed for more time and attention from her.
As the mom got older and more dependent on her daughter the visits became even less and less.
Finally, the Mom died but the daughter arrived late as usual and was unable to say goodbye.
The next day after her mother had died the daughter went to the funeral home to make the arrangements.
But to her surprise they had already been made by her Mom.
When the daughter tried to change some of the details but she was told that her mom had left that responsibility to someone .
Leaving the Funeral Home the daughter drove to her Mom’s home. To her surprise her key no longer worked in the door and she could not get into the house.
A neighbor saw the daughter trying to get and and came over.
Your Mom had us change the locks as soon as she passed away and she left me in charge of the house and the property…
The daughter was shocked and dismayed yet there was nothing she could do there was no way to make amends.
The religious leaders of Jesus’ time believed that because the Jews were God’s chosen people that their salvation was assured.
Because of this they took God’s love
and God’s mercy
and God’s forgiveness for granted, just like the daughter in the story to her mother for granted.
Today’s Gospel is not easy to hear but the message is clear Jesus was warning the religious leaders of his time and he is warning us that our salvation must earned, and that it is not assured.
He even goes so far to say that salvation is not necessarily easy to obtain.
““Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. “
Yes God loves us.
Yes God longs to be with us in heaven forever.
Yes God is good and merciful.
Yes to all these things.
But God is also just.
God is and must be as just as he is loving,
as just as he is merciful,
as just as he is forgiving.
It is so important for us to remember that what we do and how we live our lives matters.
No one wants to be loved half heartedly.
No one wants a relationship which is really going through the motions.
Who wants a friend who views their relationship with us as a burden or obligation.
One day when our time comes our merciful and loving and just God will be forced to judge us justly and fairly
by how we have lived and how we have loved.
Sadly and tragically this Gospel seems to imply that there are some who will expect to enter through the door only to find themselves locked and their key no longer able to open them.
The Gospel today is not an easy one to listen to but it is important for each and everyone of us to take to heart.
Lest one day we be heard saying something like…
But I went to Mass on most Sundays at St. Paul’s
and I said my prayers
and I tried not to hurt anyone
And God respond depart from I don’t know where you come from.
The woman in the story neglected her Mom but when she realized it there was nothing she could do to fix it.
Pray we don’t find ourselves in the same situation when we knock on heaven’s door.
Let us one and all be attentive to these most sobering word and never stop trying to be the generous and loving and caring people God created us to be.