The Narrow Door 8-21-2022

A young man wrote a letter to a priest. He told the priest he could
use the letter any way he wished. Except for a few minor changes,
here’s what the young man wrote: “I was one of the top swimmers in my
category in Canada. Then one day I let my friends talk me into
experimenting with drugs. I got hooked, and soon my mental, physical,
and spiritual health deteriorated badly…I knew I was all screwed up. I
became lonely and terribly frightened. There was no one I could talk to.
To make matters worse, I was in debt to drug dealers for over $3,000. I
figured my only way out was suicide, so I went home and wrote this
note: ‘Dear Mom and Dad, I am sorry to cause you this pain…
please don’t grieve too much. If I had stayed alive, I would have caused
you a lot more grief than by what I just did…I love you and the whole
family. (signed) Christopher”
“I began to drink to overcome fear as I prepared to take my life.
Then at the last minute something made me stop; I grabbed the phone
and called a crisis center. I didn’t know it then, but my mother was
praying like mad for me. A few days later I entered a drug rehabilitation
program. Soon I regained my physical and psychological health. It was
then that I started reading the Bible. The more I read it, the more peace
and joy I felt. This led me to put all my trust in God.”
“Meanwhile, there developed in me this growing desire to learn
more about Jesus and to get to know him better. It’s kind of funny. I
must have prayed on my knees at least ten times – asking Jesus to come
into my life – before I realized that he was already in my life…”
“All this happened about five years ago. Since then, God has
blessed me greatly. I teach in a Catholic high school and I’m active in
my parish community…I’m also still trying to learn how to open myself
more and more to the love and mercy of God. Sincerely yours, Chris”
That letter illustrates one of the points in today’s gospel: The
door to God’s kingdom is, indeed, narrow. But that didn’t stop Chris
from trying to enter. He struggled and struggled until he did. I wonder
how many people (like you & me), would have had the courage to
struggle as Christopher did.
Someone said there are three kinds of Christians: Tug-boat
Christians, sail-boat Christians, and raft Christians. Tug-boat Christians
are people who follow Jesus not only in sunny weather but also in
stormy weather. They are people who follow Jesus not only when the
wind and the tide serve them but also when the wind and the tide oppose
them. They are people who go to Mass not because they have to but
because Jesus said at the Last Supper, “Do this in memory of me.” (Luke
22:19) They are people who help other people not because they feel like
it but because Jesus said, “Love one another as I love you.” (John 15:12)
Sail-boat Christians, on the other hand, are people who follow
Jesus when the wind and the tide serve them. But when the wind and
the tide oppose them, they tend to go in the direction they are blown.
They are people who go to Mass when family and friends go. But left to
themselves, they often miss. They are the people who ask, “How far can
I go before I sin?” Rather than, “How much more can I do because I
love?” They are people who tend to follow the crowd more then they
follow the Gospel. Finally, there are the raft Christians. They are Christians in name
only. They don’t really follow Jesus, even when the wind and the tide
serve them. If they do go in his direction, it’s only because someone
pulls or pushes them. They are people who do Christian things not
because they want to but because they have to. In short, they are
Christians in name but not in deed.
The question set before us is this: Are we a tug-boat Christian, a
sail-boat Christian, or a raft Christian? Are we tug-boat Christians? Do
we follow Jesus in good times and in bad? Do we go with him not only
through the wide door but also through the narrow door? Or are we sail-
boat Christians? Do we follow Jesus only in good times? Or are we raft
Christians? Are we Christians in name only?
These are some of the growth questions today’s readings set before
us. No one can answer them for us. We must do that ourselves.


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