In today’s Gospel Jesus exhorts us to “enter through the narrow gate.” As Jesus comes to the end of his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-7:28) he gives us a summary of his teachings and an exhortation to not only hear the words of his teaching but also to do them. Jesus began his sermon by telling us that as his disciples we are the light of the world. Our light shines when we do “good deeds” such as almsgiving, prayer, and fasting, not judging, loving our enemies, and forgiving. Jesus summarizes these teachings in today’s Gospel: “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the Law and the Prophets.” This so-called Golden Rule is to guide us in our interpretation of the Scripture. Paul has a similar instruction in his letter to the Romans: “Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8). Our Christian life is not a list of do’s and don’ts but a call to love, to love as God has already loved each one of us. As we strive to discern God’s will and interpret the Scripture this rule of love is our sure guide even though it is difficult to discern at times concretely what would Jesus do or what is the loving thing to do in a particular situation. God has given us the Holy Spirit to guide us in this discernment process.
As Jesus ends his Sermon, he calls us to enter through the narrow gate and to be not only hearers of his word but doers of his word. This narrow gate refers to what Jesus has been preaching and teaching throughout his Sermon on the Mount. Jesus also shows us the way through this narrow gate by his actions, his healing of the sick, his welcoming of outcasts and sinners, his washing the feet of his disciples, his life of service and sacrifice. Jesus does not expect us to be perfect. The disciples were at times people of “little faith” who stumbled and bumbled along. Jesus was patient with them and he is patient with us. Jesus challenges us to experience each day God’s love for us and to reflect that light of love to everyone that we meet. Jesus shows us the way through the narrow gate.