The Narrow Gate
According to today’s readings, salvation should not be taken for granted. Going to Mass or being a member of a particular church does not guarantee salvation. To be saved or not to be saved depend on our personal relationship with the Lord, on how we conform our lifestyles to the message of the Gospel.
In effect, the prophecy of Isaiah in the first reading and Jesus’ sayings in today’s gospel might have sounded strange in the hearing of their respective Jewish audiences. The Jews had always believed that they were the chosen people of God; that they had the right to enter the kingdom of God. But according to the prophet, God is coming to gather nations of every language so that they may see his glory. He will even choose among them priests and Levites to bring him offerings.
In the Gospel, a question is put to Jesus: “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” Jesus answers this question by inviting the crowd to strive and enter through the narrow gate, for many will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. Then he goes on to give a parable of the banquet in which will partake people from the four corners of the earth; but those who thought of themselves as having the right to the banquet will be cast out.
Accordingly, to be saved does not depend solely on how often we go to church. For it is not enough to have attended catechism classes, or to have received the sacraments, etc. It is not enough even to preach or work miracles in the name of Jesus. All these are important but not sufficient. We must put the Word of God into practice. And this requires a daily effort. That is what it means to enter through the narrow gate.
The image of a “narrow gate” evokes striving, difficulty, effort and tiredness. The narrow gate is the way of love, mercy, forgiveness and justice. It is the way of joyfully accepting and bearing with suffering. It is the way of enduring trial as “discipline” from our loving Father in heaven. This notwithstanding, we must remember that we can do nothing without the grace of God. Thus, let us pray to him to grant us such grace to always walk on the way leading to our salvation. Amen
Rev Fr Géorges KOUWONOU
(Priest of the Diocese of Atakpamé, Togo)