Apparently, our granddaughter’s first attempt to negotiate a narrow gate at the local playground didn’t go all that well yesterday.
Clambering through an opening in the jungle-gym with all the 2½ -year-old bravado she could muster, Hannah slipped a bit…and wound up bumping her head. Undeterred, she brushed herself off…looked to her Mommy…and said, ‘Can I try that again?’
Then without missing a beat, she pointed a finger at Daddy and said, ‘Don’t let me fall this time, OK?’
No doubt, it’s not the last tight spot she’ll need a little help with as she continues to grow. And Hannah’s instinct – to reach out to others – proved a blessing to me today, as I reflected on the gospel passage we heard at Mass.
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.
The first thing I noticed is the way Jesus teaches: He doesn’t answer the question about how many will be saved, not directly anyway. He doesn’t give hard numbers, a target to shoot for.
Instead he works to refocus attention on our disposition: ‘Strive to enter through the narrow gate.’ Don’t fool yourself by seeking out the easy path, in other words. Don’t look for guaranteed formulas or a can’t-miss game plan
And tucked into his teaching – so subtle, it almost escapes notice – is a warning against self-reliance, too: ‘Many…will attempt to enter, but will not be strong enough.’
The narrow gate can be a tricky thing—as granddaughter Hannah has discovered. You may actually have to get wider, by connecting with the Body of Christ, in order to pass through it successfully. And there can be unpleasant consequences if we attempt it all on our own.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.