Fr Richard’s reflection: 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time

“Try your best to enter by the narrow door…” The passage to salvation described for us in today’s Gospel is Jesus himself. He is the only door through which we can travel in order to come to the Father’s eternal Kingdom. However, part of following Jesus’ path, as we know, involves suffering. Just as he endured Calvary for our salvation, so too he asks us to take up our crosses and follow him.

Many currents in our society perceive suffering as something evil, to be prevented at all costs. But as the Letter to the Hebrews says in today’s second reading, “suffering is part of your training.” We might not be able to explain the reasons for suffering, but by our faith we know that it has a salvific meaning and purpose.

Of course, we make every ethical effort to help those who are suffering – whether that be through medical or pastoral care. However, we should hold fast to the words of Saint John Paul II in his 1984 encyclical letter on the Christian meaning of suffering. He wrote: “…to share in the sufferings of Christ is, at the same time, to suffer for the Kingdom of God. In the eyes of the just God, before his judgment, those who share in the suffering of Christ become worthy of this Kingdom.” (Salvifici Doloris, 21)