The Narrow Gate

At first reading, this Gospel passage is missing some of the hopeful words we read elsewhere about God’s love for us and all of creation spending eternity in the Kingdom. In this Gospel we read that the door is narrow, that not many people will get through it, and once it’s shut, there’s no opening it again. One way that scholars interpret this passage is that it was geared for the religious leaders of Jesus’ time. They were fairly confident that they were among God’s chosen people and just because of who they were, they were automatically entitled to enter the Kingdom of God. Jesus came to be sure all people had a chance to enter the door of heaven. Many other people, according to Jesus, would enter before the arrogant leaders.

We all claim to know Jesus; after all, we are for the most part faithful churchgoers who weekly eat and drink in his company. This gospel warns us that this isn’t enough. There is an urgency about our paschal mystery living; we don’t have forever to make up our minds to respond to God’s offer of salvation. Each day we must take up our own cross, die to self, and live for the sake of others. This is how we enter through the narrow gate and how we get to know Jesus intimately enough to receive salvation: we must live and act like Jesus. Becoming least is a metaphor for dying to self; this is what Jesus asks: that the first become the last. What limits the scope of salvation is not God’s reach but our weak response. We must beg God for the strength to respond fully. Our strength comes from God.

Adapted from Renew International Prayer Time Year C