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You are approaching an ancient city. As you advance, you look for the city gate. What do you see? Would you be looking at thick walls, with wide barn doors for an entrance? Probably not. Actually you would see a very narrow entryway, in fact, you may have to duck your head to get in. Why? So if the Visigoth army comes to invade the city, it will take a week for the soldiers to all gain entrance. When Jesus says the kingdom of heaven has a narrow gate it means security. That is why Hell has wide gates. The city is already full of bad guys so why bother with protection.
Today, the modern narrow gate is airport security. Before we take off our shoes, empty our pockets, and walk through the narrow gate known as the X-ray machine, they ask us for identification. Why? They want to know who we are and where we are going. We just found out in the Gospel that there is no entrance through the narrow gate for those who are unknown in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus says that only those who are known will gain entrance.
I was coming back from the hospital after responding to an emergency call. When I arrived home I realized that I didn’t bring my house keys. St. Clement is like Fort Knox so my only way in was to have someone from the inside open the door. So I started to make some calls. No one answered their phone. Finally, I called Brother Jerry. On the third ring, he answered my call. I was so happy to hear his voice because I thought I was about to spend the rest of the night in the car. When he opened the door, I told him no one else picked up when I called, so I asked him why he answered the phone. He said, “Who else would be calling me at 3 in the morning, but the guy who is in and out all night doing hospital work?” So I gained entrance because someone in the inside knows me because of what I do to help the sick. Likewise, Christ knows us only by what we do for others. We are known by our activity.
The sweater was soft and light and made of cashmere. It was also on the 70% off rack at Kohl’s department store. I took it off the rack and showed my mother, who was with me. While she was inspecting it, a Kohl’s department store lady came over to me and said, “I see you all the time in here with your mother. I think that is so sweet. So really should have a Kohl’s credit card?” I said, “Thank you, but I don’t think so.” She said, “It is easy.” I said, “It’s not that, it is just that I do not have any credit history.” She said, “Everyone gets a Kohl’s credit card. Even if they reject you, you will still receive 10% off on all your purchases today for trying.” So she took my information and went away to process the card. About fifteen minutes later she came back and said, “I am very sorry but this has never happened before. You were rejected.” I told her that I was a religious priest – “I have no credit activity.” She said, “You still get 10% off on all your purchases today for just trying.” So she handed me a ticket with 10% written on it. I took the sweater and the paper with 10% written on it and handed it to the cashier. She said to me, “I never saw this ticket in my entire time here, what is it?” I said, “Maybe it’s because no one has ever been rejected for a Kohl’s credit card.” “I will have to call the manager,” she replied. I told her to forget it but she insisted, “I want to find out what this is.” So as she was calling the manager, the line behind me was getting longer and longer. I could hear them breathing heavily. The manager came by and verified the paper, so the woman said. “Let’s see, 70% off for the sweater, 10% off for the ticket, and because it is senior citizens’ day you get another 15% off. Your total for the sweater is eight dollars and ten cents.” The lady behind me said, “You got that sweater for eight dollars?” I turned to her and said, “We really know how to shop.”
The point is this. I was rejected, I was not accepted because I have no credit activity. I remember that because when I die, I will knock on the narrow gate and I will be happy to tell them all my credentials and titles but that will not matter. The only way I am gaining entry is if they know who I am. So I better have activity. That I have lived a life that God recognizes as good. After all the gate is narrow to let in those who live their lives in a way that benefits others. So here is the faith lesson. We will only gain entrance if God knows us. It is not by our credentials or our titles. He will know us if we trust God and depend on him and involve God in our lives.Back to All Homilies