Today's Scripture passage in which Jesus commands His disciples to "force" people to enter His kingdom can be difficult to comprehend. Perhaps an example from my life might shed light on Jesus' meaning. I was an intensely shy college student and found it beyond my ability to join in with other students in Catholic activities. I vividly recall after one Mass hearing several students talking excitedly about that night's prayer gathering at the Newman Center. Their excitement stirred a longing in me to attend. I walked to the Center and was suddenly too embarrassed and self-conscious to walk inside. All I could do was look wistfully through the window at those gathered in prayer for several painful minutes, then sadly walk home alone.
Over time, several loving students saw through the walls I had built. They reached out to me gently, but persistently. They exercised hospitality (see Rm 12:13; Heb 13:2), persevered gently yet firmly, and earned my trust. They did for me what I couldn't do for myself, and helped me to enter into God's kingdom when I would otherwise have drawn back because of a sense of unworthiness and a lack of confidence. Their love "forced" me to come in; I could no longer resist.
Many people need to be led. They are too embarrassed, too guilty, too broken to come into God's kingdom. They silently cry out for someone to lead and guide them. Although their words and actions push you away, their spirit is crying out for God to send a leader to break open the path (see Mi 2:13) and "force" them to come in (Lk 14:23). For some of these people, that leader is you.
Prayer: Father, may I want Your house to be full as much as You want it (Lk 14:23).
Promise: "Do not grow slack but be fervent in Spirit; He Whom you serve is the Lord." —Rm 12:11
Praise: St. Martin extended hospitality to the poorest of the poor and brought many souls to God.
(This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)
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