We don’t think of Jesus as ever being heckled, but time and time again in the Scriptures, people coming from out of nowhere ask him pointed questions, which would set the best of us on our heels. If you have ever been heckled, you know what I mean. When people throw questions at us to catch us off guard that is a form of being heckled. When we are challenged because of our beliefs by others who have no desire to understand and their only goal is to ridicule, that is a form of being heckled. When that happens, it can cause us to freeze up like a computer, the information is there, but we can’t retrieve it to respond. 

Jesus throughout the Gospels is always being questioned by people. Nicodemus comes to him in the dark of night and asks, “How can a man be born again?” (John 3:4). On another occasion Jesus was asked by a lawyer, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit everlasting life?” (Luke 10:25). And again, that same lawyer later asks, “Who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:28). Even when Jesus hung on the cross, he is asked by one of the criminals that hung alongside him, “Aren’t you the Messiah? Then save yourself and us.” (Luke 23:39). Even on the cross, Jesus was heckled! 

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem and he meets an unidentified person who asks, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” (Luke 13:23). The tone of how this question was asked would determine whether it was asked out of concern or to trap Jesus. Jesus does not answer the question; he re­directs it from “Will the saved be few?” to “Will you be saved?” 

Jesus takes what might have been a heckling question and turns the tables on the questioner in the same way he turned the question on the lawyer who asked, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus answered that question by giving us the story of the Good Samaritan. He simply says, act neighborly to everyone and you don’t have to worry about who is your neighbor. 

In the same way when asked, “Who will be saved?” Jesus offers the parable of the narrow gate. ­Jesus says conduct yourself as a person saved and then you will not worry about whether others are saved. One who is truly saved is not trying to narrow the gate but trying to help others through the gate by acting as Christ himself acts, with mercy and forgiveness. 

After all, the first reading from Isaiah 66:18:21 speaks about how salvation will be offered to all the nations of the world. “I come to gather nations of every language; they shall come and see my glory.” Jesus does just that, when he sends the Apostles to go out and baptize all nations (Matt. 28:19). The Apostles conducted themselves as people who were saved by not excluding others from salvation but rather inviting people to enter through the narrow gate.  

The challenge for us is not to act like the hecklers who just want to hear their voices clanging and gonging but never speak the words of Jesus, because those words call us to a conversion that does not exclude others. Psalm 117:1-2 tells us to, “Go out to all the world and tell the good news.” 
The second reading from the Book of Hebrew 12:5-7,11-13 reminds us as the faithful that we should not heckle the Lord by our own words and actions, “Endure your trials as disciples; God treats you as sons.” In Jesus’ answering the questions that were asked of him, we come to understand how we are to conduct ourselves as Christians. When Jesus was asked by Nicodemus, “How can a man be born again?” The answer was, he can’t, not on his own; but through the blood of Christ and the waters of Baptism we are made new and the new life we have in Christ should make us generous of heart toward others. 

When the lawyer asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength and with all your mind and your neighbor as yourself.” Simply love God above all else and if we can achieve that, we will never have a need to ask the question, “Who will be saved?”  

The narrowness of that question only makes the gate narrow for us.