Lectio Divina: Luke 13:22-30
1) Opening prayer
Almighty and ever-living God,
strengthen our faith, hope and love.
May we do with loving hearts
what You ask of us
and come to share the life You promise.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - Luke 13:22-30
Jesus passed through towns and villages, teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, "Lord, will only a few people be saved?" He answered them, "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, 'Lord, open the door for us.' He will say to you in reply, 'I do not know where you are from.' And you will say, 'We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.' Then he will say to you, 'I do not know where you are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!' And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God and you yourselves cast out. And people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the Kingdom of God. For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last."
● The Gospel today narrates an episode that took place along the road that Jesus was going through from Galilee to Jerusalem, the description of which occupies one third of Luke’s Gospel (Lk 9:51 to 19:28).
● Luke 13:22: The journey toward Jerusalem. “Through towns and villages He went teaching, making His way to Jerusalem”. More than once Luke mentions that Jesus is on the way toward Jerusalem. During ten chapters he describes the journey to Jerusalem (Lk 9:51 to 19:28). Luke constantly recalls that Jesus is on the way toward Jerusalem (Lk 9:51,53,57; 10:1,38; 11:1; 13:22,33; 14:25; 17:11; 18:31; 18:37; 19: 1,11,28). What is clear and definitive from the beginning is the destiny or end of the journey: Jerusalem, the capital city where Jesus suffers His Passion and dies (Lk 9:31, 51). But Luke rarely tells us about the places through which Jesus passed. This he says only at the beginning of the journey (Lk 9:51), in the middle (Lk 17:11) and at the end (Lk 18:35; 19:1), and thus we know something about the places through which Jesus was passing. In this way, Luke suggests the following teaching: the objective of our life should be clear, and we should assume it decidedly as Jesus did. We have to walk; we cannot stop. The places through which we have to pass are not always clear and definitive. What is certain is the objective: Jerusalem, where the “exodus” awaits us (Lk 9:31), the Passion, Death and the Resurrection.
● Luke 13:23: The question regarding the number of those who are saved. Along the road all kinds of things happen: information on the massacre and the disasters (Lk 13: 1-5), the parable (Lk 13:6-9, 18-21), discussions (Lk 13:10-13) and, in today’s Gospel, a question from the people: “Sir will there be only a few saved?” It is always the same question concerning salvation!
● Luke 13:24-25: The narrow door. Jesus says that the door is narrow: “Try your hardest to enter by the narrow door, because I tell you, many will try to enter but will not succeed”. Does Jesus, perhaps, says this to fill us with fear and to oblige us to observe the Law as the Pharisees taught? What does this narrow door signify? About which door is He speaking? In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus suggests that the entrance into the Kingdom has eight doors. These are the eight categories of people of the Beatitudes: (a) the poor in spirit, (b) the meek, (c) the afflicted, (d) the hungry and thirsty for justice, (e) the merciful, (f) the pure of heart, (g) the peacemakers and (h) those persecuted for justice (Mt 5:3-10). Luke reduces them to four categories: (a) the poor, (b) the hungry, (c) those who are sad and (d) those who are persecuted (Lk 6:20-22). Only those who belong to one of these categories mentioned in the Beatitudes will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. This is the narrow door. It is the new view of the salvation which Jesus communicates to us. There is no other door! It is a question of the conversion which Jesus asks of us. And He insists: “Try your hardest to enter by the narrow door, because I tell you many will try to enter and will not succeed. Once the master of the house has got up and locked the door, you may find yourself standing outside knocking on the door, saying ‘Lord, open to us’, but He will answer, ‘I do not know where you come from’”. Concerning the hour of judgment, now is the favorable time for conversion, to change our opinion, our view of salvation and to enter into one of the eight categories.
● Luke 13:26-28: The tragic misunderstanding. God responds to the one who knocks at the door: “I do not know where you come from.” But they insist and argue, “We have eaten and we drank in Your presence, You taught on our streets!” It is not sufficient to have eaten with Jesus, to have participated in the multiplication of the loaves and to have listened to His teachings on the streets of the cities and villages! It is not sufficient to be in Church and to have participated in catechism class. God will answer, “I do not know where you come from; away from Me, all evil doers!” This is a tragic misunderstanding and a total lack of conversion. Jesus considers unjust what others consider just and pleasing to God. It is a totally new way of seeing our salvation. The door is truly narrow.
● Luke 13:29-30: The key that explains the misunderstanding. “People from east and west, from north and south, will come and sit down at the feast in the Kingdom of God. Look, there are those now last who will be the first, and those now first who will be last.” It is a matter of the great change which takes place with the coming of God down to us in Jesus. All people will have access and will pass through the narrow door.
4) Personal questions
● To have a clear objective and to travel toward Jerusalem: are the objectives of my life clear or do I allow myself to be blown around by the wind of public opinion?
● The narrow door. What idea do I have of God, of life, and of salvation?
● If “only those who belong to one of these categories mentioned in the Beatitudes will enter the Kingdom of Heaven”, what of the Commandments? What constitutes belonging to one of these categories? Is there a “more perfect” belonging in some ways than in others? How does it all come together?
5) Concluding prayer
All Your creatures shall thank You, Yahweh,
and Your faithful shall bless You.
They shall speak of the glory of Your kingship
and tell of Your might. (Ps 145:10-11)