Just because you claim it, you won’t get it – 21st Sunday  in ordinary time – Luke 13:22-30

Just because you claim it, you won’t get it. That is the sum and substance of this Sunday’s reading. So to understand this text better let us look at it in its larger context. Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem, in fact he is almost at its gates. The Gospel of Luke tells us that He is walking resolutely for it here that he will die for the salvation of mankind. On ‘the way’ he teaches his disciples.

The Gospels narrate that ‘someone’ asked him, “Lord will only a few be saved?” If we safely surmise that this nameless disciple was indeed a Jew then the rest of the text flows seamlessly. The Jews had a belief that all Gentiles would go to hell and with that process of elimination, this minuscule population of Jews would well qualify as “only a few to be saved.”

I have a theory that I have come to believe. If you ask Jesus a stupid question you will get a stupid reply or even worse, no reply at all, as in this case. The Lord, ignoring the petitioner simply addresses ‘them’, meaning the rest. Jesus does not answer the question with a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ but chooses to teach the disciples. His point is clear, salvation is a narrow door and not the wide pearly gates that we have come to believe. If there is any door in question that one needs to contend with, it is Jesus himself; for HE IS THE DOOR (John 10:19)

The disciple is thus warned that this is no walk in the park. Jesus says, “Strive to enter through the narrow door.” The word strive in Greek, is angonidzomai, from where you get the English word agonize. The Lord is clear with his instructions. To the ‘somebody’ in the crowd who simply thought to himself,  ‘I will be saved because I am Jew and that makes me cool’, Jesus’ reply is simple, ‘strive dude, you need to work harder’!

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