Luke 13: 18-29
Ephesians 2: 11-13
The Lord once said: “Strive to enter through the narrow door, for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” A plant enters life “through a narrow gate”, making its way through the thickness of the soil, sometimes even slipping through the asphalt, or a solid layer of stones. The plant has no other way. Similarly, there is no other way to eternal life. As we see from history, all saints have walked a narrow path to enter it. Interestingly, some of them had to look for it and choose it themselves while others seem to have been constrained to that path by the Lord as they approached the dawn of their lives. The latter was the case, for example, with the holy martyr Boniface, who lived rather frivolously until the day came when he saw the execution of Christians and was brought by the Lord to profess His name and enter martyrdom. It was the same with the repentant thief, who spent his whole life in dissoluteness. But we see how his path has narrowed, even to the cross. He simply accepted it as his just deserts and took pity on the other Sufferer, Who was truly innocent. This is how he became the first of mankind to hear: “Today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43).
It would be deeply wrong, however, to rest in sinful relaxation, assured that someday the Lord will simply”drag” our souls through that narrow path all the way to salvation. As a rule, he who walks a wide path does not find the strength to instantly change his ways at the right time. Evil skills take root. Our mind works in a way that makes us try to avoid acute angles and evade any “narrow sections” of our lives’ journey. Even in our prayers we often ask the Lord to give us relief rather than the strength to follow the narrow path. Let us look at the example of a married couple, encountering difficulties in their family life. They could regard them as a saving, narrow path, requiring patience, love and sacrifice. But instead, they go and get divorced. Well, maybe they have chosen the path of celibacy, considering it more salvatory for them? Perhaps it really is, but as soon as they face the need to show patience and struggle with lust, they enter into a new marriage. Very often we spend our lives on something similar to that, at the same time confidently identifying ourselves as Christians.
But the time will come when we will be standing before the closed gates. That will be our last chance. What are we going to say then? “Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!” That means the usual, “Make our path wider for us, because we cannot do otherwise.” Then we will hear, “I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!” We could still try and return on the narrow path, saying, “Lord, Have mercy and forgive us!” Or, we could continue making excuses, “We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.” But if the Lord taught us, then why haven’t we learnt anything? The unmerciful rich man, even “being in torment”, does not find words of repentance (Luke 16: 23–24), neither can those standing in front of His glorious throne utter the saving words (Matthew 25).
The church constantly reminds us of how narrow the Savior’s path, coming into the world was; at what cost we were saved; what we were and what we have become. “So remember that you were once Gentiles in the flesh”, “remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Yes, it is by the blood of Christ that we have been drawn near. But there is no other way for us to come inside than by our own blood.
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds