What is the narrow gate? Jesus clearly speaks of a consequence for our actions where the saving grace and heavenly promise of being with Him in paradise is not a choice for everyone.
Our personal encounter with Jesus, the Good Shepherd, show us that our God is merciful in many encounters. Why is Jesus displaying a contrary image that is difficult for many to grasp? I am reminded of the story preceding this week’s gospel passage in Luke chapter 10 of Martha and Mary. Martha was concerned about the earthly affairs & preparations for Jesus’s entrance. Mary recognized the divinity of Jesus in her midst & wanted to sit before the Lord & listen. While we can all be like Martha at times and be anxious about our earthly affairs, we must be more inclined to be like Mary & have a personal encounter with Jesus to sit before Him and listen in prayer.
This week of carrying my cross proved to be difficult due to some painful joint & mobility issues. My desire to serve where my spirit was willing but my flesh was weak proved to be a major roadblock. The narrow gate that Jesus speaks of seemed out of reach, but even in the midst of my pain the Lord was wanting to reveal Himself to me. Why some have a harder time & are prone to more earthly suffering than others is the continuous reminder that God wishes for us to go before Him in prayer. The same can be true where life is going well and everything is in sync and the narrow gate is difficult to spot. Our forgetfulness of the need to go before the Lord in thanksgiving for all that we have received is a conundrum of the spiritual life.
It is quite easy to give lip service and punch our weekly worship time card. As Mark’s gospel reminds us, the sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath (Mk. 2:27). We must allow the day of the sabbath to permeate our very being and continually seek out our Lord in prayer, in our family units, and workplaces each and every day.
The narrow gate is only narrow because the sheep don’t recognize what is on the other side. While the grass may look greener at the entrance to the wider gate, it can be tempting to not want to enter or seek out the narrow gate. The narrow gate path is less appealing with roadblocks, less than pleasant greener pastures along the way and a more obscure entrance. However, it is that difficult Christian journey as disciples where ours is not one of convenience or leisure. The promise of love & life saving nourishment of the greener pastures beyond the narrow gate is one that our Lord wishes us to enter. It’s quite easy to compartmentalize aspects of our life including a place for having a relationship with God. Christian discipleship is an ongoing commitment that require us to be prepared for being able to seek the narrow gate when it is our time to be called before the Lord at the end of our earthly life. The carrying of our earthly crosses is not easy, but the reward for entering through the narrow gate instead of the easier and wider gate will be worth it. Turn to the Lord this day and always. Let us ask Jesus for guidance, wisdom & perseverance at being able to recognize the path to the narrow gate.
Jesus passed through towns and villages,
teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem.
Someone asked him,
“Lord, will only a few people be saved?”
He answered them,
“Strive to enter through the narrow gate,
for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter
but will not be strong enough.
After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door,
then will you stand outside knocking and saying,
‘Lord, open the door for us.’
He will say to you in reply,
‘I do not know where you are from.
And you will say,
‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’
Then he will say to you,
‘I do not know where you are from.
Depart from me, all you evildoers!’
And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth
when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
and all the prophets in the kingdom of God
and you yourselves cast out.
And people will come from the east and the west
and from the north and the south
and will recline at table in the kingdom of God.
For behold, some are last who will be first,
and some are first who will be last.”