In today’s Gospel, Jesus is on his way up to Jerusalem. Jesus has made this trek every year to celebrate the Jewish Pilgrimage Feast of Passover. This will be His last pilgrimage and He knows it. This year He is going to Jerusalem to fulfill all the Passover expectations since the Israelite Exodus from Egypt. At the Exodus God freed them from their slavery in Egypt. Jesus is about to enter into the final and ultimate Passover (His Passion, Death and Resurrection) where He will free us from our slavery to sin and death.
Along the way to Jerusalem Jesus is teaching his disciples and the crowds. Someone in the crowd approaches Him with a question, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” Jesus ignores his question and answers the deeper, more personal, perhaps the real question, “How can I be saved?” In answer, Jesus exhorts the questioner (and us) that if you want to be saved, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate.” The Early Church Father, St Cyril of Alexandria, describes the necessity of a life unencumbered by sin in order to enter through the “narrow gate”. In St Cyril’s words this person will “easily enter by the narrow door and run along the narrow way.”
But then, who among us is unencumbered by sin? St Paul acknowledges the difficulty when he laments, “What I do, I do not understand … I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want.” (Rom 7:15, 19) Fortunately, Jesus tells us, “What is impossible for human beings is possible for God.” (Luke 18:27) Jesus, through his Passover (His Passion, Death and Resurrection), has provided the answer to this dilemma. Jesus, himself, is the answer.
Today Jesus comes to us in the Sacrament of Confession, and in His true Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist at every Mass to unencumber us from our sins and strengthen us in our efforts to enter through the narrow gate. We need not be afraid of the narrow gate because we have the key. And that key is Jesus.