Have you ever seen a Frank Lloyd Wright house? Just down the block from the Jesuit residence at the University of Chicago is a famous Wright house - F. Robie House. Wright had an interesting concept for domestic architecture: the door of the house should not be visible from the sidewalk-it has to be discovered! Once discovered the door and one's memory of the door added to the intimacy and seclusion of the domestic space, even on the South Side of Chicago.
Jesus tells us today in the Gospel to enter through the narrow door. Let's forget the narrow door and focus on us. Our common reaction to the scripture is to figure out where the narrow door actually is and what it means metaphorically: the life of penance? The life of self-denial and strict rules? The life of seclusion and hardship? Jesus does not say! But Jesus does say not only to find the door (no easy trick if the Kingdom of Heaven's official architect was someone like Frank Lloyd Wright) but also to enter the door. And Jesus through the Gospels is talking to a community not only to an individual (I am not sure of the Greek imperative form here - singular or plural - but why let grammar get in the way of a reflection!).
I have a best friend from High School whom I admire not only because he's a faithful friend (he actually comes cross-country to visit me at times) but because he is both smart and clever (remember, intelligence is not one thing - a free anthropological lesson there). When I was in charge of the Jesuit villa house in Syracuse this friend was able to get the biggest of furniture through the narrowest of doors - he was uncannily able to figure it out. He also made a door in a wall so that we could avoid walking through a bedroom to use a bathroom.
If the door is narrow what do we do about the community? If we all live in a society of "all about me" our goal is to win, get to the top, be the first, then how do we ALL get in the narrow gate? Indeed, is the gate narrow to teach us about self-discipline or to teach us about how to live as a community on pilgrimage?
And where is that door? Most buildings have more than one door - as much a part of the divine fire code as the divine plan. At Creighton if you go through one door of St. John's you are in the front of the church just about in place to concelebrate the liturgy. If you choose another you are where all traditional Catholics hover for divine services, the back of the Church, and yet another brings you to the basement.
And how do we get in? With the help of each other. Simple, no? If we panic and think only of ourselves none of us will enter. If we are clever and wise and generous then even full-figured Jesuits like me will gain entrance.
And this is not the only necessary ingredient. Let us also pray and act upon the psalm response: "All my hope, O Lord, is in Your loving kindness."
As we continue to experience this loving kindness in our individual and communal lives, let us transform it into wisdom, discernment and action as we seek for and enter the narrow door, together.
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