The Narrow Gate

June 27, 2023
Tuesday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

Saint Cyril of Alexandria, Bishop and Doctor—Optional Memorial

“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.” Matthew 7:13–14

Is fear helpful? That depends. It depends upon which form of fear we are speaking of. First, there is a form of fear that is contrary to faith. It’s a fear that leads us to doubt and even despair. It’s a fear that results from the attack of the evil one and others who may sin against us. This form of fear is unhealthy and must be overcome through a faith that turns to our Lord with the utmost confidence and hope.

But there is also a holy fear that is most useful and one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. Recall the Proverb that says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…” (Proverbs 9:10). At a minimal level, this holy fear makes you aware of your sins and the consequences of those sins, especially serious sin. And this holy fear leads you to fear the punishment that results from sin, leading you to avoid serious sin. But the ideal form of “fear of the Lord” we must strive for is “filial fear,” which is the holy fear of a son or daughter of God. This fear is one that is grounded in a profound love of God and leaves you so filled with a wonder and awe of the glory, goodness and majesty of God that you are filled with a desire to please Him and give Him great glory with your life. Thus, this “fear” leads you to a desire to avoid even the smallest of sin, because, in your love of God, you not only want to avoid offending Him, you also want to honor Him to the greatest extent possible.

The Scripture passage above should lead us to, at a minimum, a fear of not entering the gate to the “road that leads to life.” It is useful to consider Jesus’ teaching in a very straightforward way. Jesus essentially says that it is quite easy to walk through the gate that is “wide” and down the road that is “broad” in this life. In other words, it’s exceptionally easy to embrace a life of sin and head toward “destruction.” Jesus further says that those who walk through this wide gate and down this broad road are “many.” This fact should be the cause of our honest daily examination. If this broad road is so easy, then we should honestly admit that we can easily find ourselves walking it.

The “narrow gate” and the “constricted” road are found and walked by only a “few,” according to Jesus’ words. Again, we should take notice of this and take it seriously. Jesus would not say this if it were not true. Therefore, if the gift of the fear of the Lord is alive in your life, and if you truly are a son or daughter of God, then you will daily strive to be one of those “few” who find this narrow way to holiness. And, ideally, you will do so out of your love for God and your desire to give Him the greatest glory you can.

Reflect, today, upon this challenging teaching of our Lord. Take Him at His word and evaluate your life in light of this teaching. What are you doing in life to be certain that you are one of those few who have begun to walk through this narrow gate? Does your love for God leave you with such a wonder and awe of the greatness of God that your deepest desire is to not only please Him but to glorify Him fully with your actions? Strive to enter the narrow gate and the constricted road and do not turn back. Though this requires much determination, sacrifice and love, the goal and end of the road are worth it.

My most magnificent Lord, You and You alone are worthy of all glory, honor and praise. May everything I do in life lead to Your glory and may I avoid everything that harms my relationship with You. I love You, dear Lord. Help me to love You and glorify You with all my heart. Jesus, I trust in You.