Big Enough to Go through the Narrow Door

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It is said that the Inca people and their Spanish conquerors could not understand one another at all. It wasn’t a question of language but of values. The Inca culture had a lot of gold that they used as adornment, as something that beautified people and things. The Spaniards’ lust for gold was such that obtaining it seemed to be their primary goal in life. Finding it, they melted it down for easy trade and transportation. Guaman Poma, an Inca chronicler and artist, depicted this with a cartoon suggesting that gold was the conquerors’ primary food—that they thought they would die without it. These two groups saw each other as swine who had no appreciation for genuine pearls.  

In today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches us how to get beyond such caricatures. When he says “do to others whatever you would have them do to you,” he’s making a point that we often miss. He’s not suggesting that we give others what we want; he’s inviting us to see and listen to people who think differently so that we can understand what they value and why.  

Pope Francis calls this way of relating “the culture of encounter,” a way of walking together in which love opens us to our differences. Francis teaches that this kind of love draws us out of ourselves into fuller existence. Paradoxically, this bigness of heart and mind is exactly what we need in order to move through the narrow door. 

© Liturgical Press.

Sr. Mary M. McGlone

Mary M. McGlone is a Sister of St. Joseph and a historical theologian. She is a member of the congregational leadership team of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet.

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