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Just Keep Striving

First Reading: Isaiah 66:18-21

Thus says the LORD:
I know their works and their thoughts,
and I come to gather nations of every language;
they shall come and see my glory.
I will set a sign among them;
from them I will send fugitives to the nations:
to Tarshish, Put and Lud, Mosoch, Tubal and Javan,
to the distant coastlands
that have never heard of my fame, or seen my glory;
and they shall proclaim my glory among the nations.
They shall bring all your brothers and sisters from all the nations
as an offering to the LORD,
on horses and in chariots, in carts, upon mules and dromedaries,
to Jerusalem, my holy mountain, says the LORD,
just as the Israelites bring their offering
to the house of the LORD in clean vessels.
Some of these I will take as priests and Levites, says the LORD.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 117:1, 2

R. (Mk 16:15) Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.
Praise the LORD all you nations;
glorify him, all you peoples!
R. Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.
For steadfast is his kindness toward us,
and the fidelity of the LORD endures forever.
R. Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.

Second Reading: Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13

Brothers and sisters,
You have forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as children:
“My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord
or lose heart when reproved by him;
for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines;
he scourges every son he acknowledges.”
Endure your trials as “discipline”;
God treats you as sons.
For what “son” is there whom his father does not discipline?
At the time,
all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain,
yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness
to those who are trained by it.

So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees.
Make straight paths for your feet,
that what is lame may not be disjointed but healed.

Gospel: 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.”

NAB

aug 21

“Some of you will fail this course . . . .”

I’ll never forget hearing these words during the first day of my freshman college speech class as my professor explained the department’s “aggressive curve” grading policy which required a certain percentage of students to fail.

Determined to not be one of those students, it was not uncommon to find me in my dorm room that semester attempting to brainstorm captivating topics or witty attention getters that my professor and peers would enjoy. Some of my close friends would even playfully tease me in the days leading up to a speech as I would turn down social invitations in order to practice and perfect my speech.

After I delivered my final speech of the semester, I anxiously waited for my grade to post. When it finally did, I nearly shrieked with excitement because I had passed.

Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.

Just as my professor shared that some would fail the class, Jesus’ response to the question in today’s Gospel revealed that the path to salvation would also be a difficult one. Note that Jesus uses the word “strive” for a reason: our salvation is something we need to work for. It is not something we should just take for granted. And if I’m being honest with you, I have had moments in my life— including my college speech class—where I have worked much harder at doing things of the world than doing things that would better prepare me for God’s kingdom.

Even in these moments, though, God has given me the grace to turn towards Him again by partaking in the Sacraments, and He wants the same for you. Go to Mass; go to confession; go and let God’s graces pour over you whenever you feel like your faith life has taken the back burner.  As Pope Saint Pius X, whose feast day we celebrate today, once said, “Holy Communion is the shortest and safest way to Heaven.”

My dear sister, know that the path to Heaven is not always going to be easy, but take comfort in knowing that Jesus is the key you need to enter the narrow gate.

What are you striving for in your life?

Joan Geiger is a North Dakota native and newlywed, and in her spare time she can be found going on adventures with her husband, working as a Registered Dietitian, and playing piano. You can find out more about her here.

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