We’ve all gotten stuck. It may have been while crawling around in a cramped space as a child. Perhaps it was in a department store revolving door with too many packages, or trying to catch that L train when the door was closing. There’s too much of me to get through that space, that’s the problem.
The selection from the Gospel of Matthew for today fits into a much longer litany of teachings by Jesus that begins with the Beatitudes and then moves on to fasting, adultery and divorce, almsgiving and prayer. Today we hear Jesus sharing what we now call the Golden Rule, and then he says this: “Enter through the narrow gate…. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.”
It used to strike me as a contradiction to hear this rather restrictive invitation as compared to when Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” He doesn’t then say, “but only if you can get through the door.”
My experience of getting stuck is that I usually have too much stuff. Too many packages to get through the door. Too much weight to get into those cool pants. Too many biases or expectations. Too much anger. Disappointments.
Think of the times when Jesus calls the disciples to “come, follow me.” Leave your family and your work, he says. Leave your riches. Leave your places of honor. Leave your sin and blindness and crippled limbs. He calls us to put down all those things we carry that keep us from getting through the narrow door. We are called today to enter the journey with Jesus unburdened of all the stuff of life that gets us stuck. We can’t make that journey with him loaded up with stuff that really does not matter.
Maybe it’s not the door that is too narrow. More likely, it’s all the stuff I’m carrying that gets me stuck.
Robert Hotz is a consultant with American City Bureau, Inc. and was the Director of The Passion of Christ: The Love That Compels Campaign for Holy Cross Province.