August 25, 2019
He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. And some one said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, “Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.
When once the householder has risen up and shut the door, you will begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, `Lord, open to us.’ He will answer you, `I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, `We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, `I tell you, I do not know where you come from; depart from me, all you workers of iniquity!’
There you will weep and gnash your teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves thrust out. And men will come from east and west, and from north and south, and sit at table in the kingdom of God.
And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”
So, I am sure that the majority of you in here know Father Biju and know that he is from India. And so, in homage to Father Biju, I am going to tell a story from India.
It seems that there was a water bearer who had 2 large pots. Each hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house. The cracked pot arrived only half full. For 2 years this went on daily with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots of water to his master’s house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor, cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it was made to do.
After 2 years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you.” “Why” asked the bearer. “What are you ashamed of?” “I have been able for these past 2 years to deliver only half of my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work and you don’t get the full value of your efforts”, the pot said. The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion, he said, “As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice along the trail, the beautiful flowers”. Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot noticed the sun warming all the wildflowers along the path. And this cheered him. But still, at the end of the trail, he felt bad because he had leaked out half of his load, and so, again, he began to apologize to the bearer. The bearer said to the pot, “Notice, there were only flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side. That’s because I have always known your flaws, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path. And every time we walked back from the stream you’ve watered them. For 2 years, I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just the way that you are, he would not have had this beauty to grace his home.
What I like about this story is it talks about the relationship that it takes for us to be able to get to Heaven. Because it’s not what we do but what God does through us with the Holy Spirit. When the question was asked, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?”, Jesus doesn’t even answer that question. Instead He says that it is going to be very difficult to make it to Heaven. And that you are going to have to enter through the narrow gate. So, in other words, stop worrying about how many and start worrying about how.
What he’s saying is that without the gift of the Holy Spirit, we will inevitably choose the easiest path or the wide gate. We will choose to be drawn to the world, to our own selfish desires. And God, because He loves us so much, is not going to force us to choose Him. And we know that choice as free will. But even though we are cracked pots, (That didn’t really sound right, did it? I’m not saying we’re all crackpots. I’m saying that just like the story, we’re cracked pots.) But God still works these amazing, beautiful things through us. Even though we may not be aware of it, He did the same all the way through the Old Testament. He chose broken men like Abrahm, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, the ultimate broken man in King David, and the Solomon. And yet, through all of these men, He eventually brought about the salvation of the world through Jesus Christ.
We are not perfect except in the eyes of God. So, don’t be ashamed of what you perceive to be your shortcomings because God isn’t going to throw you away. In fact, there is no hole so deep that we can dig ourselves, that God can’t come and save us. And even though we think we can, there’s nothing we can do to make God love us more. And there’s nothing we can do to make God love us less.
It’s not about how many will be saved, but rather how we allow ourselves to be used by God to do these beautiful works. But I’m going to warn you, there are no shortcuts. We are going to have to enter through the narrow gate. We just need to make sure that we let God lead us because we do not, and we from cannot do this on our own.
So, in the Alleluia verse, you heard, from John 14, when Jesus says “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father, except through Me. Now, if you pay attention at Easter, you know that the Jews knew God as “I Am”. They just couldn’t say it. But here’s Jesus, once again saying, “I Am” which equates Him with God. And what He’s saying is that it’s through God– that’s the way – this is the formula. We do what God has told us to do. And, we also make sure that we always tell the truth, we are always honest about who we are, we’re true to ourselves.
And, then, of course, without God, there is no life. When we allow the Spirit to work through that crack in who we are, to help others become something beautiful to God, all of this, through God’s grace, is what helps us get through that narrow gate. Remember, there are 2 pots in this story. There are 2 choices in life. One is the unblemished – does only what it has to do, and one is the broken-but allows God to make great beauty through its cracks. One delivers the water that it is supposed to deliver, only. The other may be depleted in the end, but what great works and beauty have been done through it.
So, today I ask you, do we see ourselves as unbroken, and do just what we have to do? Do we strive for the easy gate? Or do we recognize that we are not perfect -we have our cracks? And do we allow God to work through us, striving instead to enter through the narrow gate?