Genesis 13:2, 5-18
Matthew 7:6, 12-14
In today’s Gospel reading from Matthew, we hear several sayings, you could almost say, proverbs, from Jesus. All of them are well-known, including what is widely referred to as "The Golden Rule." The one saying that has drawn my attention is: "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 few."
Sometimes I want to ask, like a petulant child, "Why?" Why is the narrow, constricted, way the one that leads to life? I believe it is because following Jesus takes us outside of ourselves and beyond our own desires. As we hear in the Gospels, Jesus says, "Whoever wishes to come after me, must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me." (Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34). We don’t usually like to hear things like that, and so we often find ourselves looking here and there for any other way that could be easier.
But if we are willing to take Jesus at His word, we do find that following Him leads to life. We may not escape trials and suffering, but we will find real joy and real peace. We will find joy in knowing more and more the love God has for us in Jesus Christ. We will actually find joy in sharing God’s love instead of looking for what the world defines as love in all the wrong places. We will find peace in doing God’s will, more than we can find peace in following our own will. And we will find that the more often we enter the "narrow gate," or travel the "constricted road," we will find them more than wide enough for us. Such is the grace and love of God. May we all find life in following the way of Jesus!
Fr. Phil Paxton, C.P. ([email protected]) is pastor of St. Mary’s Parish, Fairfield, Alabama.