In the first year of life, the baby struggles to take his or her first steps. Soon the child is charging through the house — as long as there is furniture, railings or Mom or Dad’s legs to hold on to. But the toddler only walks when they are finally able to let go and stand on their own.
The child begins school, excited about the possibilities that await: the books she or he will be able to read and the numbers to count things, to measure things, to keep track of things. But first the child has to master the sounds of the 26 letters of the alphabet and the basic computations and values of numbers.
Later, in college, comes the opportunities to learn the skills on which the student will build a successful and meaningful career — once this future scientist or physician or writer or artist or entrepreneur passes the foundation courses.
And then one day, the now adult meets someone. The more the two get to know each other the more they like each other. The best times of the week are the times they are together. Their friendship blossoms into love. But there is no chance at “happily ever after” until they work up the courage to commit to one another as spouses.
Life is a series of such passages, “narrow gates” through which we all have to pass — and there is no easy way through them. The “narrow gates” we encounter require an honesty and integrity that we can’t ignore or fake our way through. The Gospel “narrow gate” is the honest discernment of who we are, what we believe, what we hear God asking of us in the depths of our hearts. The “narrow gate” to God is difficult to negotiate: the “gate” of selfless love, unconditional forgiveness, and sacrificial peace— but Jesus promises that anyone willing to struggle through these “narrow gates” will find their way to the eternal dwelling place of the Father.