“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are true” (Mt 7:13-14).
Jesus meets us where we are in our present state of life. He accepts us as we are at this very moment. At the same time, Jesus does not want us to just settle and to merely get by, surviving day by day. Instead, he encourages and guides us to be fully actualized. He calls us to perfection, to holiness, to be saints! He sees in us, as he did in his disciples and apostles, the promise of our potential and who his Father calls us to be. We each have a unique gift or gifts to offer to the world, each and every one of us.
One way of interpreting entering the narrow gate is that we need to say no to those apparent goods that we find initially inviting but soon realize that they are empty promises, can burden us, weigh us down, and worse lead us to addiction and enslavement. To pass through the narrow gate, we need to say yes to that which will truly bring us happiness, fulfillment, and true freedom and this means we need to say no to supporting our false ego and turning the focus in upon ourselves. We need to instead be willing to expand and go out of ourselves and will the good of and accompany others.
Jesus will help us in seeking and discerning his will. Spending time in prayer can often reveal the sources of our worry, anxiety, or fear; pride, judgment, or prejudice; sinful actions, harmful habits, and/or addictions. We need not deny or run from them. Instead, acknowledge whatever arises with Jesus, and then allow him to provide healing and transformation. This will not be a one-time, done now for all activity, but a daily, disciplined commitment and practice of discernment and examination of our conscience.
We need to continually open our hearts to the Holy Spirit such that he will give us the courage to discern between apparent and authentic goods in our lives. In our time of prayer, we can imagine placing our hand in Jesus’ hand as if we were a small child and allow him to lead us to experience the love, mercy, and grace of our ever-present God and Father. What Jesus leads us to do, he will also give us the strength and resources to bring to completion, which ultimately will be a life of communion with God and one another in this life and into the next.
Photo credit: Our recent 8 and a half mile hike traversing many narrow paths, but together we made it there and back again!