Social Justice Corner August 21, 2022

(I am writing a monthly column for my parish bulletin’s Social Justice Ministry, reflecting on the Sunday Readings)

The Narrow Gate

Today’s Gospel reading is a somber reminder that the Christian life is not easy. Jesus was making his way to Jerusalem and someone asked him if only a few people will be saved. Jesus answered by stating, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for may, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.” Jesus goes on to give an example of even people in the company of the master of the house will be rejected when the time comes and “some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

Though Silicon Valley is known as the tech capitol of the world, it’s also home to shocking wealth disparity. According to Joint Venture, the top quarter of Silicon Valley earners hold 92% of the region’s wealth; the top 10% of earners hold 75% of the wealth. Though in 2021 the average annual income in Silicon Valley was $170,000, and the median income was $138,000, the average income for service workers in the region was $31,000. Nearly half of children in the Valley live in households struggling to get by. 10,028 people are homeless in Santa Clara County, including youth and families.

As Catholics, it’s not enough for us to attend church on Sunday then close our eyes to the inequality in our midst. In Populorum Progressio, Pope Paul VI said,

“He who has the goods of this world and sees his brother in need and closes his heart to him, how does the love of God abide in him?” Everyone knows that the Fathers of the Church laid down the duty of the rich toward the poor in no uncertain terms. As St. Ambrose put it: “You are not making a gift of what is yours to the poor man, but you are giving him back what is his. You have been appropriating things that are meant to be for the common use of everyone. The earth belongs to everyone, not to the rich.”

Therefore, let the Gospel today remind us that when everyone is focused on attaining more money, promotions at work, and social media acceptance; Jesus is asking us to enter through the narrow gate and set our eyes on walking with the “least of these” in our midst.

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