The Narrow Gate
Today’s world seems to have forgotten an important part of the gospel. It is the part where Jesus said”Strive to enter the narrow gate, for many I tell you will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.” He goes on to say there will be “”wailing and grinding of teeth. The question we must all ask ourselves is whether or not we are on the narrow way or will we be left out “wailing and grinding” our teeth.
Are we on the narrow road? The fact that the road is described as narrow by Jesus strongly implies that it is not the way of the crowd. Rather we should be going against the crowd. We can’t be in step with society and be on the narrow way. We should be walking to the beat of a different drummer. How well are we doing that?
We need to examine ourselves and see how we are doing. Too often we worry about other people and think compared to them I’m not bad. The problem is that God doesn’t compare us to other people or the standards of this age but to His eternal standards.
We need to critically look at ourselves. We may think we’re doing okay. We don’t practice homosexuality, cohabitation, look at porn, use drugs or support abortion. That’s a good start but what about the rest.
What about our worship of God and our prayer life? Do we really have a prayer life or do we only think about God forty-five minutes a week? Are we seeking to do the minimum? I doubt if that would meet God’s standards for the narrow road.
How honest are we at work, with our taxes, with our family? Can we really say our honesty lives up to God’s standards?
What about the way we treat other people? We may not be violent but are our words abusive? Do we injure other people by the things we say including gossip? Are we respectful to those around us?
What about our language? Does our language glorify God and uplift those around us? What about the topics of our conversations? Would you be comfortable having the same conversation with Jesus?
Seriously, what about the things we watch on TV? Would you be watching the same shows if Jesus was sitting in your living room? Would you react the same way to what happens in sporting events? I’m not saying it is wrong to cheer a touchdown or a great play. But what about your reaction when an official blows it or someone gets clobbered?
What about the moral content of the shows we watch? Do they portray married life and sex the way God wants or are they teaching anything goes? Do they teach that violence is easily justified? Do they teach that honesty is pause? Do they teach that it is cool to put people down? You can ask the same questions of movies, music or video games? Are they good-by the world’s or God’s standards?
What about the way we vote? Do we vote for the candidate who is best for our pocketbook, who doesn’t call on us to sacrifice or the one who challenges us to put others and our country first? Do we vote for the most popular regardless of whether that candidate agrees with God’s teachings on life and war?
Do we live by the creed that our country is always right or are we willing to take a stand and speak out when we believe the government is wrong?
How well are we keeping to the narrow way? We can’t follow Jesus and our society at the same time. Too often they are going different directions. Often we notice the big issues like abortion, gay marriage, divorce and cohabitation but we miss the subtle gradual changes in things like TV. TV wasn’t always this bad. It didn’t all of a sudden get this bad but if you look back you’d notice each season it got just a little worse. It was so gradual you didn’t even notice it. Think back to the Seventies. Certain shows were only on cable and late at night. Now regular TV is similar to the shows that were on cable.
The same is true of language. What is acceptable to society has gradually gotten worse. Cohabitation used to be a scandal, something the parents would keep secret, now it is as common if not more common as marriage.
Society’s ways are far from the narrow way we need to follow. Yet it is not too late. As Catholics we are blessed with the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we can start again and receive the grace we need to follow the narrow way? If you have a long way to go be encouraged because you’re not alone and are at least headed in the right direction when you try to change. Many of the saints found themselves in the same position at one point in our lives. Most of us find it a lifetime task to find the narrow path. Maybe that is why we live so long. God in His infinite mercy gives us the time to change and find the narrow path to heaven.
Lord, we ask for the grace we need to honestly evaluate how well we are following the narrow way. We beg for the grace to make the changes we need to make. Thank You for Your infinite mercy. Amen