Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Narrow Gate

"Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough - Luke 13:24
At first glance, this gospel reading seems to be talking about earning our way into heaven. But that is not my understanding of salvation.
Salvation comes from God, not from our own efforts. Salvation is a grace. A free gift. It is not about pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps.
So then what does this "striving" mean?
I think striving has more to do with our struggles to surrender to God...to love God and our neighbor...to make Jesus Christ the Lord of our everyday lives.
I think striving to enter the narrow gate is about being on this spiritual journey and joining with others in these struggles. It is not about winning any kind of contest or earning our way into heaven or being better than the next guy in the religion department.
It is about trying to love as God loves and then realizing we just cannot do it without Him.
In The Story of a Soul, St Therese writes about being too small to climb the rough stairway to heaven on her own. She realizes that she needs to surrender to Jesus whose arms will be the elevator that lifts her up.
John Shea writes ( The Spiritual Wisdom of the Gospels for Christian Preachers and Teachers for Year C) – “… what begins in striving is accomplished in surrender ... divine love makes brothers and sisters of us all. When we know this, then God knows us and he opens wide the gate."

Oh Lord, please help me to remember that I cannot accomplish anything on my own. Help me in my struggles to love and to surrender all to you.
Amen.
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8 comments :

Karinann said...

Colleen,
I love your take on this; it is about surrender. Also why it is so hard to get through the gate- surrender is not something most of us do easily.
Great quotes as well; I especially like the one from Spiritual Wisdom.
Thanks and God bless!

Colleen said...

Karinann, thanks so much. I was wondering if I was a little "off" on my approach but it came to me so strong and then I read Spiritual Wisdom and got my confirmation! And you confirmed it again!
Yes, surrender is not easy. I struggle with it everyday. Hugs and God bless!

Jean Wise said...

Oh Colleen, you are so right. I try and try and try but only when I let go and surrender do I rush into God's open and waiting arms. Thanks so much for the much needed reminder.

Colleen said...

Jean, I like the way you put that. Surrendering is hard to do. God bless.

RAnn said...

As Catholics we don't believe "once saved, always saved" or that all we have to do is claim Jesus as our savior; on the other hand we don't believe we get to heaven on our own merits either, and it is hard sometimes to reconcile those two thoughts.

Colleen said...

RAnn, thank you for your comment. I found that confusing when I first became Catholic, coming from a Protestant tradition. Have a blessed Sunday!

Barb Schoeneberger said...

Getting through the narrow gate is to simply put one foot in front of the other and walk in the light of Christ, trusting in His grace. Easier said than done, though.

I think St. James said Faith without good works is dead. But also good works without striving to do the will of God are dead. We have to do both, but it is always God's grace that allows us to do anything of merit in His eyes in the first place.

Colleen said...

Barb, yes, God's grace and putting one foot in front of the other. And I add - surrender!