Matt 7:6, 12-14
How narrow the gateway and constricted the road that leads to life.
At first glance, this phrase in today’s Gospel can seem quite contradictory. “Narrow” and “Constricted” are not words I usually associate with “Life”. When I think of life, I think of something that is vibrant, abundant, and joy-filled. Yet Jesus tells us we have to pass through a narrow and constricted gateway to find this abundant life He promises.
This is because we must go down, in order to come up. We must die to ourselves (our egos, our desires, our sins) in order to be open to the abundant grace and life God has in store for us. Jesus tells his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their lifewill lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it” (Matt 16:24-25).
In his book, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, Richard Rohr writes about this very message and its importance for discovering fullness of life:
“It seems in the spiritual world, we do not really find something until we first lose it, ignore it, miss it, long for it, choose it, and personally find it again—but now on a new level. Three of the parables of Jesus are about losing something, searching for it anew with some effort, finding it, and in each case throwing a big party afterwards. A sheep, a coin, a son are all lost and found in Luke 15, followed by the kind of inner celebration that comes with any new ‘realization’ (when something has become real for you)…Falling, losing, failing, transgression, and sin are the pattern, I am sorry to report. Yet they all lead toward home. In the end, we do not so much reclaim what we have lost as discover a significantly new self in and through the process. Until we are led to the limits of our present game plan, and find it to be insufficient, we will not search out or find the real source, the deep well, or the constantly flowing stream” (67).
In other words, until we walk down the narrow and constricting path, we will not truly find life. Maybe that means finding God in our suffering; maybe it means doing some soul searching to discover what areas of our life need growth, forgiveness, grace; maybe that means simply being still and knowing that we are loved by God and that that is enough.
Whatever baggage you have, you need to let it go. It is not going to fit through that narrow, constricted gateway. It may not be pleasant to walk through that tight space, to do that pruning in our lives, but we know that once we get through it, new and abundant life awaits us!
- Tricia Lothschutz