Reflection for the August 21, 2022 — 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time

August 15, 2022 | By Bishop Roy E. Campbell, Jr.

“Strive to enter through the narrow gate.”

J. Wellington Wimpy was better known as just plain “Wimpy” from the cartoon strip “Popeye.” Wimpy is the hamburger eating friend of Popeye. However, as much as Wimpy liked to eat hamburgers, he did not want to work to pay for them himself. His famous catchphrase was, “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”

Wimpy was lazy and wanted to “put off” any work he should do, until another day. He believed that he always had “tomorrow” (he called it Tuesday); to accomplish what he should do today. If Wimpy really intended to pay for today’s hamburger tomorrow, what is wrong with his logic? Wimpy’s logic is not as reasonable as it may sound, because tomorrow is promised to no one. Wimpy’s procrastination will cost him the “narrow gate” of opportunity to do what he should when he should do it.

In our Gospel, Jesus tells us to “Strive to enter through the narrow gate.” The “narrow gate” is Jesus. To enter the gate that is Jesus, we must answer His call to follow Him. Jesus calls us to follow Him by striving to live a life of holiness. Striving for a life of holiness takes work. So, when should we start to strive to follow Jesus’ call to holiness, today or tomorrow?

Jesus goes on to tell us that “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 in reply I do not know where you are from.” We do not know when God will close the door to our earthly lives. When He does, the “narrow gate” we are called to enter will be closed to us. Do we want to be outside, or inside of the “narrow gate?”

When we look at our lives today, is there anything that we wish we had done to answer our Lord’s call to holiness ‘yesterday,’ which we did not do? Fortunately, we still have “today” to do anything we need to do, but there is no guarantee that we can put it off until “tomorrow.”

When God calls us into eternal life, we do not want to be standing outside the “narrow gate,” knocking to get in. When we prepare for eternal life, by striving for holiness in this life, we “will recline at table in the kingdom of God.” When it comes to preparing for eternal life, Jesus is telling us, “Do not put off until tomorrow, what you can do today.”

– Bishop Roy Campbell

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