Jesus talks about entering through the “narrow gate.” It seems obvious that just having the marks of Jewish circumcision is not enough. Being born into your faith — a cradle-Jew, or a cradle Catholic — isn’t enough. If those are the only qualifications we have to show the heavenly gate-keeper, then it’s very probable that we’re in for a big surprise. In fact, the gate may not be opened. Something else is needed for entry into the heavenly banquet.
There is a sense of urgency present here. Salvation is offered to all, but not forced upon all. If we do not seize the moment for what it is – a moment of grace in which to act – then before we know it, the time has come to “close the door.” Every moment we live is an opportunity for grace. It’s an opportunity, especially in this year of Mercy, to take action as a disciple of Jesus.
The first requirement is faith in Jesus, the Son of God. If I’m baptised into the Catholic faith and routinely attend Mass to fulfil a Sunday obligation, then that should be enough to get me past the gatekeeper. No Way! There’s still the second part: Living that faith. The “narrow gate” requires effort – which is a habit of taking action on those daily chances for grace. Our attitude towards these moments is much more important than a “programmed response” which really shows a heart which is distant from God.
Jesus Christ is the “narrow gate” by which we enter our Father’s house; he is the “only and necessary” gateway to his “sheepfold,” the Church. Everyone needs daily conversion, including you and me; those who find the way to life are few. So, will we be “surprised” when the time comes for each of us to stand at the gates? That’s your question to answer.