The Narrow Door

Twenty-First Sunday OT/C 2019
Isaiah 66:18-21; Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13; Luke 13:22-30

Responding to a believer eager for salvation, Jesus answers:
“Strive to enter through the narrow door,” choose to actively pursue a direction, a path in accord with the creative Fount of Goodness.

Let us consider the wisdom of some other narrow doors inscribed in nature that can help us to widen our anthropocentric perspective.When the time for sloughing its old skin comes, which has become too constrictive for
developing and growing, the snake looks for a narrow passageway, usually two stones, to shed the old and thrive in its fresh new skin. At the opportune time, the caterpillar spins itself inside the constricted doors of a devastating dissolution to emerge, transformed, into a butterfly. A seed must accept a process of decomposition into the ground to produce its flowers or fruit. And what about our generation through the birth canal?

To renew itself, to expand, and to innovate, Life’s evolution often goes through narrow routes or bottlenecks to generate unpredictable newness and connection. When oxygen was a toxic element, only the cooperation of cells in the mud created a structure able to transform it into a source of life, thus favoring the emergence of more complex

Maybe each one of us, personally and as a species, to release our best and sometimes unknown potentialities, needs to undergo a sort of deconstruction, of reformatting; so that what is partial, exclusive, self-centered, illusory, stiff, fearful, or addictive is acknowledged and by grace transformed, allowing a new, surprising, and inclusive reality to emerge.

We have a taste of what this narrowing/widening passage means in the story reported by the prophet Isaiah. The time in which it occurs is the post-exilic epoch, when the Jews have returned from slavery in Babylon to the land of Israel. They think that the promised salvation, or having a land, goods, freedom, and blessings from God is just for them but the prophet opens the narrow doors of their expectation to a universal, all-embracing perspective. God cannot be confined just to the wellbeing of Israel or to a separate, ethnic group. God desires the enhancement and abundance of life for all nations, cultures, and creatures; thus, Isaiah invites his community to intentionally enter the doors of a cooperative, and inclusive togetherness.

Jesus himself, like every spiritual guide, underwent the narrow passages that changed the limits, the constraints of the inherited religion of his time. Out of overstepping love he goes through the doors of death to release a new creation: the spirit of abundant, inclusive enjoyment. He becomes a doorway into divine consciousness, breaking through the human mindset of a protective and exclusive religion; transforming it into an opening for boundless, open-ended community.

Jesus surprises us.

Addressing the religious people around him, pleased with themselves, he says that it is not enough to preach in his name, to believe the right doctrine, to eat at the Eucharistic table, to support the powers that support us, to avoid impurity; all this is worthless if love, justice, and peace don’t transform our existence in an unending process.

Jesus, breathing his spirit in our bodies, engages us into a process of evolution, urges us to move through the narrow doors of changing structures when the right time comes, to act as change-agents toward greater unity, justice, and peace (Ilia Delio).

We are indeed in the throes of a world-altering passage, filled with risk and danger, but also of stunning creativity and great hope. Are we willing, personally and as a civilization, to cross the narrow threshold of a mindset and enter into a new one?

We are still walking through the wide door of a profit at any cost economy that is damaging the Earth’s ecosystems, causing migrations, stirring up nationalism, provoking wars and shootings, increasing fear and despair.

Jesus’ voice continues to resound:
“Strive to enter through the narrow door,” choose to actively pursue a direction, a path in accord with the creative Fount of Goodness. What you do on this earth makes a difference to God and to the universe: God in our midst – in the foreigner, the immigrant, the excluded, in the sunflower, the cloud, in the finch, the whale.

May each one of us, out of love for the earth, for creatures and the human species engage ourselves in daily acts that enhance the greening of the planet, the conditions of the destitute, and saddened, resentful hearts.

I desire to mention a fragile but hopeful sign of change happened this week. On August 19, faced with mounting global discontent over climate change, income inequality and working conditions, a coalition of nearly 200 top executives, representing some of America’s largest companies signed a letter attesting that the purpose of a corporation is no longer to advance the interests of its shareholders. Their mission statement aims to invest in their employees, deliver value to their customers, deal fairly and ethically with their suppliers, foster diversity and inclusion, dignity and respect, and
to protect the environment by embracing sustainable practices across their business.We need actions, but the change of mind is a first, promising step!

May you, overturning God
accompany us through the throes
of this time, through
the narrow doors and senses
of connectivity among human diversity,
the vitality of the natural world,
and the ecstatic technologies.
May we celebrate reciprocity, wonder,
and love.

Gathered around the table of God’s abundant grace,
we present our prayers and intercessions.
That we may welcome the nudging and prompting God through the narrow doors
of every moment of our life: of our relationships, of our choices and actions.
That we may welcome and respond to the knocking God in the bodies of those
who are suffering, are discriminated against, rejected, or are looking for help.
That we may enter the narrow door of love for the earth, abandoning the dead end
of carbon emissions, plastic consumption, and unnecessary waste.
. . . .
We offer these voiced and silent intentions through Jesus Christ, our gateway and
wayfarer, AMEN

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