Jesus was not a proud or arrogant man.
He and his disciples simply spent their time walking from town to town proclaiming the good news to anyone who would listen.
As we heard in today’s Gospel,
one day as he was walking into a village
someone asked him.
“Lord, will those who are saved be few?".
Jesus didn’t answer the question,
but rather he used the opportunity to talk to them about what people needed to do to grow in holiness and be saved.
You see for most of its history Israel was a tiny country among giants.
It was at the crossroads of many nations and because of this it was continually being taken over.
In order to survive and maintain its identity Israel became very insular and isolated.
The people of Israel rarely interacted with others.
In fact they looked down on people from other countries and somehow convinced themselves that only they would enjoy eternal live.
It was the opinion of many during Jesus’ time that simply being an Israelite and following the letter of the law was enough.
And so in today’s passage Jesus warned them not to take their salvation for granted.
Being an Israelite or simply following the letter of the law was not enough.
Jesus explained that in order to be saved a person had to strive or work at being holy.
And when he said strive he used the word which describe the strenuous exercise of an athlete.
I don’t know about you but for me strenuous exercise is not easy.
His point was simple
being the men and women God wants us to be is not easy.
It is strenuous because we have to change..
We have to change our hearts.
It’s not easy to let go of our wills,
it is not easy to let go of our desires and our plans.
To be holy there has to be a continual surrender of our wills to God’s will …. our plans to God’s plan.
Religious practice, going to Mass, going to confession, are so important because they help us understand God’s will and fall in love with him.
But without love and a conversion of heart all the religious practice in the world is worth nothing.
Being holy is indeed like trying to squeeze a big body through a tiny door.
You have to pull in tummy and fold over your arms and bend your neck and tuck up your legs and then if you are like me you need someone to unfold you when you if and when you get through.
What does this have to do with all of us here is Berlin Connecticut?
If our presence here on Sunday is to bring us closer to God…
We have to strive
We have to really work at being the men and women of God.
We have to work really hard at being holy.
If we think it’s easy then something is wrong.
Coming here every Sunday and warming the bench is important but it is not enough.
In in this passage Jesus is reminding us
warning us if you will that
we can’t just sit back and take salvation for granted.
We can’t permit ourselves thoughts like
I go to Church every Sunday
and there are a lot of people worse than me
so that’s enough.
We have to be more loving,
more concerned about the need of others,
more faithful… etc etc etc…
and it is not easy.
The Word of God which we hear at Mass will inspire us.
The grace of the Eucharist will nourish us and sustain us.
The incredible grace of a good confession will make us more humble and merciful.
No going to Mass is not enough.
And being baptized Catholic is not enough.
We can never take our salvation for granted.
The message of the today’s Gospel is simple.
We have to work at conforming ourselves to Christ every day of our lives so that someday we may pass though the narrow door of holiness to life eternal.