Abram was a very rich man, with livestock, silver and gold. Lot, who was travelling with Abram, had flocks and cattle of his own, and tents too. The land was not sufficient to accommodate them both at once, for they had too many possessions to be able to live together. Dispute broke out between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and those of Lot’s. (The Canaanites and the Perizzites were then living in the land.) Accordingly Abram said to Lot, ‘Let there be no dispute bewteen me and you, nor betwen my herdmen and yours, for we are brothers. Is not the whole land open before you? Part company with me: if you take the left, I will take go right; if you take the right, I will go left.’
Looking round, Lot saw all the Jordan plain, irrigated everywhere – this was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah – like the garden of the Lord or the land of Egypt, as far as Zoar. So Lot chose all the Jordan plain for himself and moved off eastwards. Thus they parted company: Abram settled in the land of Canaan; Lot settled among the towns of the plains, pitching his tents on the outskirts of Sodom. Now the people of Sodom were vicious men, great sinners against the Lord.
The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted company with him, ‘Look all round from where you are towards the north and the south, towards the east and the west. All the land within sight I will give to you and your descendants forever. I will make your descendants like the dust on the ground: when men succeed in counting the specks of dust on the ground, then they will be able to count your descendants! Come, travel through the length and breadth of the land, for I mean to give it to you.’
So Abram went with his tents to settle at the Oak of Mamre, at Hebron, and there he built an altar to the Lord.
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Do not give dogs what is holy; do not throw your peals in front of pigs, or they may trample them and then turn on you and tear you to pieces.
‘So always treat others as you would like them to treat you; that is the meaning of the Law and the Prophets.
‘Enter by the narrow gate, since the road that leads to perdition is wide and spacious, and many take it; but it is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it.’
…[I]t is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
Have you ever sat near a children’s playground and observe how the kids play? Children jump off platforms, come down the slides and get back in line to have another go at it. The older and more daring ones will climb as high as they can to the top of a rope pyramid and may sit at the top not knowing how to come back down. The ambitious little ones may challenge a friend to see who can swing highest then can’t stop the momentum.
I recall playing ‘Police & Thief’ during schooldays with my friends, a very skinny friend of mine was always able to squeeze through a very narrow opening on the play tower and get away with being caught. He did enter a ‘narrow gate’ which led him to being spared his ‘life’.
Some times, the choices we make become very clear in front of us, but most times they are not. People around you could be taking a path which goes with the flow, but you are hesitant to stand out and follow another path which you feel is right. In today’s world, the narrow gate often represents a very difficult, unpopular choice from the norm. We want to be accepted, we would like to hang with the crowds. We would choose with the majority.
The Gospel today reminds us not to be afraid to take the unpopular choice, urging us to enter through the narrow gate, but Jesus prepares us for the hardship that follows. He never said that it is easy, but He tells us that the hard road leads to life. What good is there where the road is wide and easy but never leading to life?
This is not to say that we choose a difficult path every time we come across a junction of life choices. If through prayers and discernment, be not afraid to take the more difficult choice if it feels right. In today’s first reading, Lot chose the well-irrigated Jordan plain and Abram settled with the land of Canaan. At that time, the Jordan plain is looking more attractive than Canaan but the Lord assured Abram of his land and to his descendents forever.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Austin Leong)
Prayer: Show us O Lord the path which leads to Life, and we will enter it with You no matter how narrow the road is.
Thanksgiving: Thank You, Lord, for guiding us through the difficulties in our lives only to give us a sense of hope and life at the end of every tunnel.
Tue, 23 Jun – Jeremiah 1:4-10; 1 Peter 1:8-12; Luke 1:5-17; Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (Vigil Mass)
Wed, 24 Jun – Isaiah 49:1-6; Acts of the Apostles 13:22-26; Luke 1:57-66.80; Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist
Thu, 25 Jun – Genesis 16:1-12.15-16; Matthew 7:21-29
Fri, 26 Jun – Genesis 17:1.9-10.15-22; Matthew 8:1-4
Sat, 27 Jun – Genesis 18:1-15; Matthew 8:5-17; Memorial for St. Cyril of Alexandria, bishop and Doctor of the Church
Sun, 28 Jun – Wisdom 1:13-15;2:23-24; 2 Corinthians 8:7.9.13-15; Mark 5:21-43; Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time