THE NARROW GATE
will only a few people be saved?” He answered them,
“Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many,
I tell you, will seek to enter but will not be able.”
of us look for some esoteric meaning in the words of Christ,
a meaning hidden beneath the surface, beyond the obvious, and we
pride ourselves that we are clever in having understood it in light
of some obscure aspect of history, archeology, or Semitic culture.
We delve into the construction of walls and buildings, look to artifacts,
cultic practices, and so forth.
In other words,
we look everywhere to find the meaning of what Jesus says ...
except in what Jesus says.
In our obsession with the “hidden”, the “secret”,
the “real” message obscured by, and cleverly concealed
within the words — we completely overlook the obvious. It is
too simple for us, too transparent for our “sophisticated”
minds – we are far more clever than these simple Jews from some
obscure province of Rome.
At Mass today, many of us will be guided through the intricacies
of the construction of the walls surrounding the Holy City of Jerusalem,
with a special emphasis on “the Narrow Gate” (kheta) and
the “Eye of the Needle”. The priest will presume that we cannot
understand the obvious apart from the obscure, and by focusing upon,
by belaboring the obscure, he will successfully elucidate the obvious.
architectural lesson, we will all warmly congratulate ourselves
on how clever and insightful we have subsequently become. Now we
know all about the Narrow gate: how wide it is, how encumbered camels
cannot pass through it, that it was a security measure, albeit primitive,
to prevent the mass influx of an enemy that may possibly lay siege
to Jerusalem; that it was so high and this long – oh, by the way,
and in conclusion ... Jesus was using the Narrow Gate as an analogy
that has something to do with sin and salvation; however, by now
I am unclear about the point of the analogy ... “how many cubits
high did you say it was, and a cubit equals how many feet?”
At this point I must make a confession: I do not know how wide the
gate was. I do not even know how wide a camel is. What is more ...
I have no compelling reason to find out — and, I suspect, neither
But I do know
that both the Gate and the Camel are really beside the point — and
so do you.
You know what
Jesus is saying.
We know, but we wish to quibble. “Well, what if it was a Llama
instead of a Camel? And does the parable presume the camel's having
three days supply on it, or four,
in order to prevent it's passing through the gate?”
The point is that the parable is not about a camel .... or even
about a narrow gate!
It is about
It is about
your soul making its way to Heaven. Of course Christ used parables,
but He also spoke in strikingly clear and unquestionable terms.
This is one.
Why should this be important to you?
tells you that many will attempt to enter
but will not.
will be busy measuring the gates ... instead of striving to walk
Boston Catholic Journal