The Narrow Gate

Fourth Sunday of Easter
April 30, 2023

Today’s Readings:

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Jesus tells us the he is “the gate”. If he were here, preaching to us in person today, the symbol wouldn’t work as well as it did in his own time. In the countryside of the Gospels, there were gates all over the place protecting flocks from the multiple threats around them.

But my guess is that you haven’t seen one of these things recently or likely EVER.

So what have we seen that might bring home the essence of the Gospel to us? I’ll tell you what came to my mind.

On occasion, we buy bulk candy for our Sisters at our nursing facility. The candy factory has been around for decades and, as in some neighborhoods of the old city, the area surrounding it has become a residential and commercial desert. With that isolation, the property has become unsafe, an unfortunate target for thieves and vandals.

And so the site has been fortified – metal shields, wired windows, old sealed doors. Just try to get inside without the right directions, information, invitation or credentials! See that little red door about the middle of the photo? It doesn’t open for everyone! You have to know the way to get to the sweets inside!

Jesus is telling us that the same thing is true for those seeking salvation. There is only one way, and it is through Jesus – the Gate.

Jesus refers to this symbol frequently so he must be pretty serious about it!

Enter through the narrow gate.
For wide is the gate
and broad is the road that leads to destruction,
and many enter through it.
But small is the gate and narrow the road
that leads to life, and only a few find it.

Matthew 7:13-14

Strive to enter through the narrow door.
For many, I tell you, will seek to enter
and will not be able.

Luke 13:24

Today’s readings remind us about just how serious Jesus is. The folks in Jerusalem, hearing Peter and scared for their complicity in the Crucifixion, want to get directions for passage through the Gate. Peter tells them:

Repent and be baptized, every one of you,
in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins;
and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 2:38

In his letter today, Peter tells us that repentance translates to imitation of Christ in our lives

If you are patient when you suffer for doing what is good,
this is a grace before God.
For to this you have been called,
because Christ also suffered for you,
leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps.
He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.

1 Peter 2:20-22

In our Gospel, Jesus says that the Gate is available to everyone, but only through him:

I am the gate.
Whoever enters through me will be saved,
and will come in and go out and find pasture.

John 19:7-8

Bottom line? How do I pass through the Gate to the richness inside?

  • Believe
  • Repent – Turn from anything that blocks me from living the Gospel
  • Imitate Christ in my own life

Poetry: A Gate – Donna Mancini – the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and a New York Foundation for the Arts Grant. She is a professor of English at Hunter College. The poem portrays the poet ,at a spiritually vulnerable time in her life, seeking the Gate to peace.

I have oared and grieved,
grieved and oared,
treading a religion
of fear. A frayed nerve.
A train wreck tied to the train
of an old idea.
Now, Lord, reeling in violent
times, I drag these tidal
griefs to this gate.
I am tired. Deliver
me, whatever you are.
Help me, you who are never
near, hold what I love
and grieve, reveal this green
evening, myself, rain,
drone, evil, greed,
as temporary. Granted
then gone. Let me rail,
revolt, edge out, glove
to the grate. I am done
waiting like some invalid
begging in the nave.
Help me divine
myself, beside me no Virgil
urging me to shift gear,
change lane, sing my dirge
for the rent, torn world, and love
your silence without veering
into rage.

Music: Shepherd Me – Ann Sweeten

2 thoughts on “The Narrow Gate

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