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08/21/16 Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time - Fr. James

In Olympic Games all the athletes try their best to win the medal. Since they aim for the gold medal, they are focused on themselves, intending to come first in the sports and games.

In the gospel, Jesus uses a sporting competition as an analogy, where there is a first place and a last place. Then He is talking about a reversal of fortunes, where the first become last, and the last become first. Here Jesus is talking about a race, a race of another nature, a spiritual race.

So it is a race where we want to win but it is not to be in the first position. It is a race where we run but for a very different objective. We need lot of training in order to win this race.

The 2nd reading tells us: The Lord trains the ones that He loves and He trains all those that He acknowledges as His sons. To win a race without struggle is perhaps to win it without honor. If there were no difficulties, there would be no victories. If there is nothing to struggle for, there would be nothing to achieve.

The Lord trains and disciplines his children. So that we may be able to go through the narrow gate. The gate that Jesus refers to in the Gospel is himself: "I am the Gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved." (Jn 10: 9)

In a race when everybody is focused on "I" and "me," Jesus is challenging us to reverse the focus. Instead of focusing on me, focus on Jesus, the gate. In other words, give priority for Jesus. Following Jesus is not easy. Doing good is not always the popular choice. There are times when choosing what is good means going against the prevailing culture and popular values of the world.

To enter the kingdom of God is to enter by the narrow door. Jesus does not threaten us when he invites us to follow him. It is clearly more attractive to find the easy way out, to take the wide-open door the world follows.

We must keep in mind that we are not alone when we seek to enter through the narrow door; God is always with us. We only have to ask for his help and grace. In moments of difficulties, of temptations and struggles, do we continue to trust in God's fidelity? The joy of winning is when Jesus and others go before you. It’s a joy that all the medals in the world cannot give.


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