Dear Parishioners and Friends,
In the time of Jesus, small gated passageways could be found around the walls of Jerusalem and were placed for the ease and convenience of residents as shortcuts. But these tiny gated side entrances were purposely kept small enough to defend and protect from unwanted marauding invaders, enemy horses and equipment from gaining easy access.
Jesus uses reference to a narrow gate as an example of how one should live the Gospel message by choosing, not the easy path in life, but instead the path of righteousness, a path that leads to the "narrow gate." In chapter 13 of Matthew, Jesus proclaims: "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." Matthew 13
In this weekend's Gospel from Luke, we hear about how one day, at the end of our earthly lives, we will come to a place in which we will have to offer an account about how we lived our life. To enter the heavenly kingdom, we will need to knock on the door and hope to squeeze through the narrow gate and never have to hear the words from the master of the house, "Depart from me you evil-doers."
Happiness is not some self-achievement. Happiness is not found in "me." It is only found in relationship to God who patiently loves us with this uniquely personal, limitless, and eternal love. God made us hungry for the infinite, ever hungry for God. We will never be satisfied with anything lesser.
But if left to our own initiatives, we would not be able to squeeze through the narrow gate, especially when we are attached to wrongful misdeeds and selfish choices that harm others and ourselves. We must "declutter" and "lose a few pounds" and unload some of the "stuff" that harms our relationship with God. This is only made possible when we give God room to stretch inside our hearts and influence our moral decision making process. We then give God permission to begin shaping us into the image God wants us to be. The Sacrament of Reconciliation and regular reception of the Holy Eucharist is the best way to squeeze through the narrow gate.
Finally consider this passage from the Gospel of John, chapter 10, which describes Jesus' desire to help us through the narrow gate...
"I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep... I know my sheep, and my sheep know me."
If Jesus is at the gate, we can take a deep breath and place our total trust in him.
May God bless you!