Listen to those words of Jesus again:
“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.”
Those are pretty challenging thoughts, I think. But they are thoughts we can resonate with. Certainly Lot fell into the trap of going through the wide gate into the land of Sodom, the residents of which our first reading says “were very wicked in the sins they committed against the LORD.” And how true for us as well. Isn’t it always easier to take the easy road, the road everyone uses, despite the fact that that road doesn’t take you anywhere you want to go? We might very well take that easy road time and again, and end up, well, with Lot, in a place like Sodom. God forbid.
But the narrow gate isn’t easy to find and is harder still to travel. Living the Gospel and laying down our lives for others is hard work, and may often seem unrewarding. We may have to set aside our desires for the pleasures and rewards of this life. We may have to give up our own preferences for the good of others.
So we may well fail to get through that gate by our own efforts, due to the brokenness of our lives and the sinfulness of our living and the limited nature of our goodness. We may, in fact, find it next to impossible to travel through that narrow gate by ourselves.
But here’s the good news: we don’t have to. The one who is our teacher in this constricted way is also the way through it. Our Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, and through him we can all find our way to the Father. He even gives us the key to that narrow gate: “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the Law and the Prophets.” As we pledge to live our lives by considering the needs of others just as we would consider our own needs, we will indeed find that traveling that narrow road is the way that gives most joy to our lives. As the Psalmist reminds us today, “He who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.” Let’s make it our effort to live that Golden Rule today.