Father James Swanson, LC
Listen to podcast version here.
Jesus passed through towns and villages,
teaching as he went and making his way to
Jerusalem. Someone asked him, "Lord, will only a few
people be saved?" He answered them, "Strive to enter
through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will
attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.
After the master of the house has arisen and
locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and
saying, ´Lord, open the door for us.´ He will
say to you in reply, ´I do not know
where you are from.´ And you will say, ´We ate
and drank in your company and you taught in
our streets.´ Then he will say to you, ´I do
not know where you are from. Depart from me,
all you evildoers!´ And there will be wailing and
grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
and all the prophets in the kingdom of God
and you yourselves cast out. And people will come from
the east and the west and from the north
and the south and will recline at table in
the kingdom of God. For behold, some are last who
will be first, and some are first who will
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe in you
with a faith that never seeks to test you. I
trust in you, hoping to learn to accept and
follow your will, even when it does not make sense
to the way that I see things. May my
love for you and those around me be similar to
the love you have shown to me.
Petition: Lord, grant me the humility and sincerity to
enter by the narrow gate.
1. A Scary Question: This
is a scary question: “Lord, will only a few
people be saved?” Jesus doesn’t answer the question directly.
Instead, he gives some advice. It almost looks like Jesus
is avoiding the question, as if the answer is
too discouraging. He tries to be encouraging instead, but
at the same time underlines the difficulty of success.
“Strive” he says, “to enter by the narrow gate.” Strive
is the key word, since apparently, many are going
to try to enter and fail, because the gate is
2. A Disturbing Reply: The words that many
will try to enter and fail are troubling. What
percentage? How many? Nowadays, we like exact statistics. Jesus
doesn’t say, but we get the impression that it
will be more than a few. The possibility of failure
is very real. Who will fail? Probably, people who
don’t take him seriously; people who don’t try hard
enough; people who love something more than they love Jesus.
In other word, lots of people will fail…
Christian Credentials May Not Be as Solid as I Think
They Are: He goes on to say that many who
think they are doing enough are going to be
surprised to find they didn’t do enough. They think their
Christian credentials are solid, but they will be found
wanting. They will tell Jesus that they ate and
drank with him, that they received communion every Sunday.
They will witness to how many times they heard him
preach in their streets, how much they contributed to
the collection, but that will not be enough. Yet
others who did not seem so good in life will
be entering the Kingdom before them. Which group will
I be in? Jesus is warning me that just because
I feel I am doing enough for him doesn’t
mean I am going to be in the group to
be saved. I need to follow him with as
much sincerity and honesty as I am capable of,
doing his will and not my own.
Christ: Dear Jesus, your words are troubling to me.
I see how often I fail in what I know
I should be doing for you. I see that I
cannot reliably guide myself in this matter. Send your
Holy Spirit to help me open my eyes to
see if I am falling short before it is too
late. Help me to enter by the narrow gate.
Resolution: Today I will examine my conscience very honestly
to see if I am saying ‘no’ to Jesus
in any aspect of my life and to see if
I am letting myself get too comfortable in any
aspect of my life, since comfort, especially in the
spiritual life, is a sign that I am not “striving
to enter by the narrow gate.”