Broadening the Narrow Gate
“Don’t shine so that others can see you, shine so that through you, others can see Him.” ~ CS Lewis
Today’s Gospel passage (Luke 13:22-30) carries with it not only a sobering reality check, but in it are uttered arguably the most haunting words in Scripture, of course I refer to Jesus’ response to those knocking at heaven’s door seeking entry:
“Go away, I do not know you.”
Prior to that, when asked if only a few people will be saved, Jesus opts to forgo the answer to that question, instead urging them - commanding them actually - to “strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.”
This message, as stated earlier a very sobering one, certainly flies in the face of many of today’s mega-preachers and their saccharine, feel-good message of universal salvation for all and justification by merely faith alone. Jesus’ response indicates that, contrary to popular belief, salvation will be, at the very least, difficult.
The discipline which the author of Hebrews speaks of in today’s 2nd Reading (Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13) would most certainly seem to be a prerequisite in the pursuit of the narrow gate. Discipline in pursuit of a deep and profound prayer life. Discipline in setting aside time for acts of charity and mercy. Discipline in forgiving 70 x 7. Discipline in getting to that confessional box often so that our souls can be cleansed and sanctified, the heavy burden of sin removed.
The Catholic Church is in the business of saving souls. That’s it. She has no desire to spin-off, merge or diversify into other potentially more lucrative market segments. Cost margin analysis and PowerPoint Presentations have yet to make their way into the celebration of the Mass. When the Priest and congregation pray in unison ”May the Lord accept this sacrifice at your hands. For the praise and glory of his name. For our good and the good of all his holy church” we are reminded why we celebrate the Mass; so that God may be glorified and that the world may be saved. Habitual celebration of the Mass and receipt of the Eucharist will most definitely widen the narrow gates of our soul, made so through sin and spiritual malnourishment.
Perhaps the question for each of us to ponder is, what are we doing to unite God’s Heavenly Kingdom to his Kingdom here on Earth? Are we engaged in acts of charity? Do we bring the joy of the Gospel to the workplace? Do we seek forgiveness while remaining swift to forgive? These are but a few of the questions to reflect upon, and once again, these virtues and the attainment of them require discipline.
“Strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees. Make straight paths for your feet” (Hebrews 12:11), the paths that will deliver is safely to and through the narrow gate.