The Gospel according to Matthew (7:6,12-14)
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine,
lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces.
“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.
This is the Law and the Prophets.
“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.”
Opening Prayer: Father God, help me to find that narrow way that leads to Your Kingdom. Be with me today, and guide my thoughts and actions to reflect that I am a child of Yours. Amen.
Anyone in my family knows that I love maps. I was the designated navigator for our family on vacation trips (back even before the Thomas Guide, I was the one with those huge maps that, once unfolded, could not be easily re-folded again)! And, when we weren’t on trips, I would have the Reader’s Digest Atlas of the United States open on our living room floor, following those squiggly little lines and imagining what it would be like to go to those faraway places. There’s something lost now, that we can, by virtue of our smartphones, call up a map of anywhere, and even a scene of what it looks like from that particular street!
Maps are important to help us to find our way to places we’ve not been before. They can especially help if the turn you need to make is into a narrow street or driveway. In the past before maps were so available, directions were even more difficult – you would be told to “go past the fifth house, and turn right at the tree that looks like a scarecrow” or something like that. Is it any wonder that Jesus talked today about how hard it is to find the “narrow way”? It’s something that His listeners could readily relate to, as finding a “narrow” entrance was quite the challenge.
Adding on to my story about maps, we also include the notion of what amounts to peer pressure. Isn’t it easier sometimes to go along with the crowd, because to do otherwise would cause us extra difficulty. We would have to explain why and feel like we need to make the other person accept (or at least understand) why we don’t want to go along. What Jesus is saying today is that just because many are going that way it does not mean that we as His followers ought to go that way. This is especially true in our world today, where so many are focusing on what is good for the individual, and not for what is good and right for all of us.
As Christians, we are called to seek out the narrow way, because doing so means that we are acting like Jesus wants us to act. It means that we are willing to forgive, because we are forgiven. It means we love, because we are loved. It means that we care about others, because of the care that God has for each one of us.
It’s not promised to be easy. In fact, it’s very difficult, because everything in our society is exhorting us to take care of ourselves. That’s the wide gate that Jesus talked about. And, we can see where that gate leads, and it’s not anywhere we would want to go. Jesus asks us to not take the wide, easy path, because it doesn’t make the world a better, more humane, more kind place. The wide, easy path makes the world a sadder one, a place with less care for those who need it most.
Let us choose today – right now – to seek out the narrow path. We may not have a big, paper map, or the Thomas Guide, or even a smartphone mapping app, but we only have to look to Jesus and He will show us the way, and call us to that narrow gate, which will lead us ultimately to be with Him forever in heaven.
Closing Prayer: Lord, help me to always seek You and Your way. Let me not be parted from You and be someone who not only is Your disciple, but one who draws others to be close to You as well! Amen!
Action for the Day: Consider what you can do today to be that example of love and faith, so that Jesus’ light shines through you. It is okay if you don’t do it perfectly. Just promise that you will try it again tomorrow!