Somewhere down the line of life's history, I picked up a compact disc by a Christian-reggae band called Christafari. Good music, and one of my favorite songs on the disc is one in which the singer takes the roll of a man healed of blindness by the Christ. The title of this post is a line from that tune. The depiction of the healing is one of both blessing and trauma...and of learning that even the gift of sight returned carries with it a calling to accept responsibility to act on the injustices that once were invisible and are now apparent.
I was humming that tune as I pondered this coming Sunday's readings. Jesus is offering counsel to folks who are nervous about being in with the group slated to enter heaven/become citizens in the kingdom Jesus is proclaiming. "Lord, will only a few be saved?" Jesus' answer is to "strive to enter by the narrow gate." There is a time when that gate will close, and the time to act is now. The time to enter is in the present moment. Not tomorrow. Make haste.
That causes old spiritual wounds inside me to quiver a bit, like a rheumatic knee will when it rains. Old memories of pastors who used these passages to frighten their flock into rapid and immediate conversion to allegiance to Christ. Old anxieties about being worthy of God, worthy of life...that were fed by the very people who were charged with guiding me into that light-not scaring me out of my skin (thanks, St. Bart!).
The problem with doors and portals is that they create a boundary between inside and outside, between entrance and exit. Any child born after the advent of Sesame Street knows that. Grover the monster taught us the differences between near and far, in and out, enter and exit. And, I am confident, that none of us at the end of days want to be far out at the exit. We all want to enter in at the last day into the love of God in Christ, revealed.
The challenge is to understand that though the time may be "short" in the mind of God...we might have an eternity to wait. The end of days is promised to us, but just like the folks that were both patient and hurried in getting off the burning plane in Japan this last week, we have to be aware that panic will only lead to death beyond any necessity.
The answer seems to be to encourage "holy patience" within, around and about us. To learn to wait patiently at the gate for friends and family to pass and to invite them to walk in before us. To make sure those who need help to cross a high threshold and to navigate a narrow passage get that aid. To be aware that the "now" in God is also the "always has been" and the "about to be."