What is the most difficult word we have to say in our entire life? Think about it!
I’d say the most difficult word we have to say in our entire lives is “GOOD-BYE”.
We avoid saying Good-bye whenever we can because there is something about us that does not like finality. There is something in us that wants relationships and encounters to go on forever.
This week some of you moms and dads will walk your child into school for the first time and bravely wave and say Good-bye. This will be repeated in kindergarten, first grade, high school and college. I was 3-years old but I remember the tears in my mother’s eyes when my older brother went off to high school.
Somewhere today a father is on the phone with his son who has disappointed him. Harsh words are exchanged. Then there is silence. Finally the father will say, “Good-bye, son!”.
All over the world right now at airports and train stations people in love, kiss and say the words that break their hearts: “Well, this is it, Good-bye!”
The Jesus we meet in today’s Gospel (Luke 13:22-30) is a man who is about to say Good-bye to his friends and followers. He is still busy teaching, but he is making his way toward Jerusalem, the place of his destiny, the place of his cross and death.
Everything Jesus says and does as he makes his way through the cities and towns can only be understood if we realize that he is a man about to say “Good-bye”.
So when some smug person taps him on the shoulder and says, “Excuse me, but can you tell me if only a few people will be saved?” Jesus gives a jarring answer because he is a man about to say “Good-bye”. Jesus knows that soon he himself will enter into his destiny through the narrow door of death.
It is from his own perspective of dying that Jesus tells the person: “Listen, you are asking me the wrong question. You are trying to convince yourself that just because you say your prayers, pay your taxes, and belong to the “right” religion, you’ll be saved, but the rest of the world can be damned.
“Do you see that gate over there leading into this village? It’s a narrow gate, not wide open, but open. You and anybody else, even those not of your religion, not of your color, not of your country, and not of your morality – can enter through it.
“You’ll be surprised who is NOT going to enter the Kingdom through the narrow gate because they carry too much smug baggage with them. I can tell you all this because I’m on my way to Jerusalem. There’s no time for small talk when you’re a Dead Man Walking. I’m getting ready to say “Good-bye!”
It seems to me that we are living at a time when many people are so convinced that theirs is the only gate to go through. Listen to any TV or radio talk show. Most of them are ONE GATE talk shows.
Some people talk as if they alone have God’s ear. New brands of racism and sexism are emerging in our time. Our Church and our world are being divided into 2 camps – the saved and the unsaved. But Jesus tells us as he heads toward Jerusalem that life is not that simple – all black or all white.
A wise man once said: “The opposite of a truth is a lie. The opposite of a profound truth is another profound truth.” We must not divide our Church and our world with our smugness.
All 3 of our scripture readings today remind us that God’s ways are infinitely greater than our feeble imaginations. The gate is narrow, but the gate is still open to everyone.
It was many centuries ago that the words, “GOD BE WITH YOU” were contracted into one word – “GOOD-BYE”. It is important to remember what the word “Good-bye” means: ‘GOD BE WITH YOU!”
Think of a recent “Good-bye” that was difficult for YOU. Was it BITTER…..SWEET or was it BITTER-SWEET?
USE YOUR VOICE FOR KINDNESS, YOUR EARS FOR COMPASSION, YOUR HANDS FOR CHARITY, YOUR MIND FOR TRUTH AND YOUR HEART FOR LOVE!
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